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Showing 1-10 of 53 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 67 reviews
on October 18, 2012
I didn't know quite what to expect in reading this book. I had only heard recently that authors were publishing e-books that contained just chapters or sections from books in a series. "Shudderville" fits that format, being the first of a six-part series of episodes, much like a serialized novel or connected TV episodes.

I was interested in this book from its title, its episodic format, and because other reviewers had said it was scary. And I was not disappointed by any of that--okay, I admit the cliffhanger ending left me a bit disgruntled, but it fulfilled the author's purpose in making me want to read more, which I did.
Summarizing the plot is difficult because the story has so many twists in it. But I'll tell what I can without giving too much away. Sophie is a young woman whose daughter Jayla was killed in a car accident when Sophie let her daughter's father, Peter, take the child with him. When Sophie realized Peter was drunk, she tried to stop him, but it was too late--he took off with Jayla in the car, and soon they were both dead. Now Sophie is an alcoholic, severely depressed, and desperately wishing she could have her daughter back.

Sophie begins to hear strange noises coming from the apartment of her new neighbor, a handsome young man with a goatee named Ryan. Her elderly neighbor, Mr. Mandelbaum, comes to complain about the noise, and in time, he starts to pry into Sophie's personal life. Sophie soon meets Ryan and her friend Cassie becomes sexually involved with him. I expected at this point for Ryan to be the cause of the novel's shudders, but Zabrisky's plot is far more complex.

Several twists in this installment and a cliffhanger made me unable to resist going to read the second book in the series, and I thought that story even more suspenseful, although it contained different characters entirely, so not until the third installment can we expect the plot of part one to continue, and I expect in time it will connect with the plot from part two. I intend to keep reading. The first four installments are available now with the rest soon to come.

A lot of reviewers have already commented on how scary this series is and compared it to "The Twilight Zone" (one of my favorite TV shows). The comparison is warranted, but I didn't find the story scary so much as suspenseful and intriguing. It does not have the sensational or gory moments I have come to expect in horror novels; rather it is more literary in its themes and attached to the classic Gothic literature tradition, but definitely written for a modern audience. Zabrisky's writing style is modern and easy to read. Perhaps some of it is a bit clichéd, particularly in the dialogue, but only because she is writing realistic dialogue--people talk in clichés all the time. She does have some imaginative language--my favorite line came when Sophia was watching a television show about polar bears where she thought they looked cuddly but realized "A child was like a Pop-Tart to them." Her second installment felt smoother and more haunting in its language and tone.

But what I enjoyed most about "Shudderville: One" was Zabrisky's use of universal and especially Gothic themes that go back to classic eighteenth and nineteenth century Gothic literature, such as Matthew Lewis' "The Monk" and William Godwin's "St. Leon." Here is the quest for forbidden knowledge, and much like in Goethe's "Faust," a signing away of one's soul for what one desires; the punishment that results, however, is closer to "The Twilight Zone" in its twists. The Gothic quest for immortality is here and more relevant than ever in an age when the media and advertising are constantly trying to make us obsessed with retaining youth. A character in "Shudderville: One" reminds us that the cost of immortality is watching everyone you love die around you so you are alone in the world.

For the low price of $1.99, this first installment of the Shudderville series is well worth reading to decide for yourself whether you will enjoy it. It's better than most of the television series out there today, and fast-paced, full of surprises, and suspenseful without cheap sensations of horror and gore. I was left wanting more, and I think most readers will feel the same.
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on October 15, 2012
This is a departure from my normal reading material, but anytime a book can play with my mind the way this one did, I'm totally hooked! I could so see this as a movie. The oddball characters and pacy storytelling kept me interested throughout, and the mystery of who Sophie's neighbors are and what they're up to kept me guessing. As a heroine, Sophie is a tragic figure...a woman who has lost everything and is flailing about hopelessly in an attempt to live her life. When presented with an opportunity to get back some of what she's lost, she leaps on without the slightest hesitation, thinking that one wish granted by a kind old stranger can set things right.

But things aren't what they seem, and no one in this book is what you thought they were in the beginning. This book points to the inherent flaw of humanity; the need/want to control our own destinies and beat fate at its own game. Unfortunately, things won't be quite so easy for Sophie. By the time I got to the cliffhanger ending, I knew that she was in for one wild ride. Will Sophie get what she wants, or will she learn a valuable lesson instead?

You know what they say: Be careful what you wish for!
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on June 1, 2012
I think this book has it all from fantasy and horror to science fiction. So if you enjoy suspense and gripping supernatural elements, then check out this perfect summer read!

Sophie meets a mysterious man named, Mandelbaum who knows too much about her life. He knows about her divorce, the deaths of Harley and her daughter, Jayla who are both dead. The man gives her one wish. She thinks he's crazy. The plot thickens and you won't believe what happens. I was shocked!!!! She doesn't know if she's in a dream or having a hallucination. Or been drugged? Were Tobias and Jonah swindlers or con men? Was it some kind of elaborate scheme? Her wish came true but suddenly it's snatched away breaking Sophie's heart, all because she didn't word her wish right. More happens and you won't believe it!

I opened this book and it sucked me right in! Shudderville is a psychological thriller that's addictive and full of drama and suspense to keep you hungrily reading. This author does a fantastic job of blending classic science fiction and supernatural horror elements into a read that you will never forget! I'd definitely recommend this book without a doubt. 5 stars in my book! I'm off to go get the sequel and see what the heck happens! Wow! What a cliffhangar!
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on May 19, 2014
First off this is a serial. It is not a short story or a full story. It is part of a larger serialized novel. Don't expect an ending or all of the story threads to be tied up in a neat little bow. You will be left with questions probably that will hopefully be answered in a later installment. In a lot of ways it is like a TV show , like Lost or the X-Files, where you get a little more of the story each week along with a lot more questions.

This first installment gives a wish fulfillment story. After a woman undergoes a tremendous lost, she is given the chance to fix everything with a single wish. Will she take the chance despite the warnings from another wish recipient?

I know I said this is just the first part of a much larger story, but it is hard to not compare it to similar short stories. It doesn't come off as very original nor as suspenseful as such stories as the Monkey's Paw. In fact, I did not find it either suspenseful or spooky at all. The characters were fairly flat with motivations that were not explained well ( hopefully this is one of those things that get explained later.)

If this had been a short story, I would have given it only 3 stars. It got the extra star because of the potential in the story. It was interesting enough to make me want to see what happens, at least in the next installment, if not the entire serial.
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on June 25, 2012
Mia Zabriskie has written a story, "Shudderville", which could have come from the writers of the Twilight Zone. "Shudderville" has all the markings of that special story that frightens you, spooks you, creeps you out, yet nothing could make you put the book down until you come to the last page and even then you might find yourself rereading this book over and over again. Then after you have read it a few times in a row you run back to Amazon and buy "Shudderville 2" just so you can experience all of these sensations again. And this is what makes this story so great and Ms. Zabriskie an even greater writer.

Sophie is a woman who has suffered tremendous loss and feels even more guilt. She spends her time cooped up in her apartment drinking her guilt and loss away. She is a loner that tries to stay away from people except for a small few she has in her life. In a short amount of time she meets two strange, different but similar, people. Jonah is a young man close to her age and he lives next door to her. She sees him in the laundry area of their apartment building, at the mailboxes, or a few other places that she might frequent. They share a wall and Sophie can hear a lot of what goes on in his apartment. Then she meets Mr. Mandelbaum, the old man who lives on the other side of Jonah. She finds him a little strange until he makes her an offer that totally frightens her. Then Jonah makes her a different offer that freaks her out even more. How can these offers be true and how in the world does Mr. Mandelbaum know so much about her? And this is where I'll stop as I do not want to give anything away.

If you like to be spooked, frightened, and love your books to be fear-provoking but `can't put it down' then "Shudderville" is the book for you. This is a 5-star fright night book for those who love to be spooked and it will not disappoint you at all.
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on July 10, 2013
THINK TWILIGHT ZONE

Mia Zabrisky writes in her bio that she models the stories in her "Shudderville" series after classic TV shows like "The Twilight Zone," "The X-files," etc. She does, indeed, serve up long short stories that remind me of the best episodes of "The Twilight Zone." In this first installment, her characterization and pacing are skillful. Each character has a motivation/thoughline; descriptions and exposition are minimal; and the stories end with a well developed emotional release after the climax, so the stories are complete despite having a teaser at the very end for the next story in this linked series. To top it off, the editing and formatting for Kindle of this first story are, at least to my eye, flawless.

THE STORY'S IDEA

Workaholic by day, alcoholic by night, Sophie lives alone is a filthy, squalid apartment. She mourns her daughter who died at age nine. After a boisterous young man moves in next door and breaks the lugubrious quiet of the apartment building with loud music and louder sex, Sophie finds herself intervening in an argument between the young man and another tenant, a sinister old man who is protesting the noise. The old man trips and falls to the floor during the altercation, and Sophie helps him up. In gratitude, the old man tells Sophie he will grant her one wish.

WHO COULD WANT MORE?

I do, for one. I'll gladly give Zabrisky's story a star each for characterization, pacing, emotional intelligence, and editing--but I withhold a fifth star because the premise is too familiar. Admit it, the moment you read that a sinister character has granted someone a wish, you know where the story is going. Yes, "Shudderville" achieves its goal of recreating the experience of viewing a classic horror/macabre television show like "The Twilight Zone," but the writers of those shows created their scripts with an eye to staying in the comfort zone of the audience. Zabrisky is not Robert Bloch or Alfred Hitchcock. Seekers after original horror and macabre stories will have to look further for stories of wishes too horrible to grant.
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on December 24, 2012
Shudderville is a mystery, sci-fi, and horror novel. Sophie became a reclusive alcoholic after she lost her young daughter in a car accident. Her life consists of working during the day and getting drunk at night. That is until she gets a mysterious next door neighbor. Her new source of entertainment is eavesdropping on him. His name is Ryan and he often plays his music extremely loud but she doesn't mind. On the other hand, Tobias Mandelbaum, the elderly man living on the other side of Ryan, does mind. He tries to find an ally in Sophie but comes up empty handed.

After getting better acquainted in a black out, Ryan warns Sophie to stay away from Tobias and to not give into temptation. She writes him off as crazy and pays no attention to his cryptic warning. After Sophie has a few more encounters with Tobias, he offers her something that is extremely hard to refuse. Can what he offers really work? Is Ryan really who he says he is? Is Tobias who Ryan says he is?

Mia Zabrisky does a wonderful job of drawing the reader into Sophie's mind. Ms. Zabrisky manages to keep the mystery of Shudderville concealed until the end of the book and even then only reveals just enough to make things come into focus while keeping you coming back for more. As the first book in the series, she sets up the plot and main characters beautifully for the rest of the books.

This is a very addicting book series. I read the first one in two days. I could not put it down. This would be a good read for adults due to language, sexual references, and drug use. All of which are necessary for character development. I hope you enjoy this novel as much as I have. I can't wait to sink into the next book.
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on October 16, 2012
Every once in a while I'll unearth one of the really good ones in my Kindle. This creepy and disturbing novella by Mia Zabriskie latched onto me from the opening page and wouldn't let go. The story's sense of pace and the grating inevitability of Sophie's obsession with her lost daughter keeps the pages whizzing by. For surrealistic detail, none compares to Zabriskie. She creates a time and place that is, for want of a better word, "there." I do love a story that paints pictures, and this one does so. Do yourself a favor: wait until late at night when it's storming outside and the wind is hooting around beneath the eaves, open up Shudderville, and get swept off. This one's worth it. I'm off, now, to Shudderville II.
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on December 11, 2012
The beginning of the book was intriguing, but then it got really predictable to me. Is it supposed to get scarier throughout this series? I won't be finding out. It seemed like this story had already been done before. It kind of reminded me of the classic short story, "The Monkey's Paw." But that story is a lot creepier and has great build up. Although, it's only 99 cents, I wouldn't recommend spending that amount.
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on April 27, 2013
I am not sure I can recommend this to anyone because of the confusion it created for me. I will have to say that I have read up through Shudderville 8 and still don't understand what is going on. I am still waiting to read #9, but I think I will have to go back and read the others again and make a chart of the events and the dates they happened so that the story will make sense. I feel the author even lost track of where she was going with the story, because she repeated parts of the story in almost all of the episodes, some of them verbatim. At the risk of showing spoilers, I have to ask, "How many outcomes can you have from a plane crash and a wish for immortality?". I understand the premise of the stories, but there is just something missing, or I'm not smart enough to put it all together.
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