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Mayan Blue Paperback – May 24, 2016
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About the Author
Melissa Lason and Michelle Garza have been writing together since they were little girls. Dubbed The Sisters of Slaughter by the editors of Fireside Press. They are constantly working together on new stories in the horror and dark fantasy genres. Their work has been included in FRESH MEAT published by Sinister Grin Press, WISHFUL THINKING by Fireside Press, WIDOWMAKERS a benefit anthology of dark fiction. https://facebook.com/sistersofhorror/
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Little do the hapless students realize that their Professor has unlocked the key to Xibalba, the Mayan underworld populated to by a fearsome host of creatures and demigods that are hungry for both souls and human flesh. The party's just getting started and little do Alissa and her friends realize that they are slated to become the main course.
Alissa and Wes will be tested in every way humanly possible with nothing but their wits to save them, with occasional help from the single solitary spirit in the realm that doesn’t want them dead. But in Xibalba death is only the beginning.
Mayan Blue is brought to us by rookie authors Michelle Garza and Melissa Lason who have already made something of a name for themselves in the short story markets before tackling this, their first novel. It's a pretty damned cool name too. Dubbed the Sisters of Slaughter by the editors of Fireside Press, these ladies prove that they earned it with their debut book.
This is an enticing horror novel that delves deep into the realm of Mayan culture and mythology to present a story that is both compelling and disturbing. The characters are put through a grueling gauntlet that rends the senses and assaults the reader’s sensibilities. Mayan Blue is not for the faint of heart, but it IS for lovers of great, gruesome, gory horror. Garza and Lason do a fantastic job of creating a whole array of iconic and demonic boogeymen to plague the unsuspecting students.
There are a few minor formatting issues and the ending could have been reworked to make a certain decision by the heroic couple a bit more poignant, but other than that I have nothing but good things to say about this novel. I read it twice before writing this review and found it just as rewarding the second time around.
I would highly recommend this novel for readers who like to dare the darker side of human nature. Especially anyone who enjoyed the Pendergast novels by Preston and Child. Garza and Lason bring the same spine-tingling horror born from the roots of older cultures. Nothing is more terrifying than the demons that have lingered through half whispered stories down through the centuries.
First off, let me just say how glad I am to read a horror book that is influenced by ancient continental American lore, rather then the johnny come lately Christian influences that predominate most modern works. Granted, those influences have produced some great stories, particularly in terms of my recent reads like Paul Tremblay’s A Head Full of Ghosts and Hunter Shea’s I Kill In Peace. But it’s fun to spice things up a bit by reaching into a deeper, richer history of the Americas.
Mayan Blue, as the title indicates, reaches back to the peak of the Mayan heyday, drawing on the occult beliefs of Mesoamerican and Central American people to craft a present-day horror story. Building off the debunked speculations of Mayan civilization reaching as far north as Georgia, the sisters craft a novel in which such speculations are on the verge of being validated. Unfortunately, the professor in possession of the evidence has gone missing, and his small team of university researchers are en route to recover him.
From the outset, Garza and Lason let the blood spill, plunging their small cast of characters into the depths of Mayan hell. There’s plenty of action to go around as the group is confronted with a number of horrors, from the labyrinthine and booby-trapped maze of the newly discovered Mayan temple to the angry gods and their owl-headed, sharp-clawed servants.
This is a fun and quick bit of adventure horror, with a number of well-drawn splatter scenes. Bodies are flayed and entrails spilled all over the place. My only real complaint about the book is that the characters are paper thin, with several of them never rising above a quickly drawn stereotype before being dispatched in some nicely grisly scenes. While their deaths are certainly interesting, it’s a shame that their demise is the most interesting thing to happen to them in the brief moments we spend with them. In order for horror to be truly effective, there needs to be characters to root for and against, people you can become attached to and sympathize for and with. I didn’t feel particularly attached to anybody in this book. While the gore and setting may be memorable, the characters, unfortunately, are not.
Aside from that, I had a fun time with Mayan Blue. I greatly appreciated the change of scenery it provided, and the way its influences in both the creature-feature and slasher genres merged to form a truly appropriate temple of doom.
[Note: this review is based an advanced, uncorrected proof copy supplied by the authors in exchange for an honest review.]
This story moves along at an excellent pace, and Michelle and Melissa, the Sisters of Slaughter, do a remarkable job building this terrifying realm and filling it with diverse, horrifying beings. I would have liked to see them better develop the two lead characters, Alissa and Wes. It would've made a longer and more complex story had they conducted a deeper emotional and psychological study of these two. Had we understood their childhoods, why they chose to study archeology, and their future dreams, the ordeal they suffer would mean more and the choices they make would hold more weight.
The book has a number of formatting issues, and I believe the story could have done with better editing, but don't let this keep you from reading this novel. It's a joy to read and will compel you into a place where nightmares dwell.