Stephanie Ellis

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13+ teosta 32 jäsentä 4 arvostelua

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Associated Works

The Fiends in the Furrows: An Anthology of Folk Horror (2018) — Avustaja — 67 kappaletta
A Dying Planet Short Stories (Gothic Fantasy) (2020) — Avustaja — 25 kappaletta
Under Her Skin (A Women in Horror Poetry Collection, 1) (2022) — Avustaja — 12 kappaletta
Diabolica Britannica: A Dark Isles Horror Compendium (2020) — Avustaja — 6 kappaletta
Far From Home: an Anthology of Adventure Horror (2021) — Avustaja — 4 kappaletta
Midnight From Beyond the Stars (2021) — Avustaja — 4 kappaletta
Were Tales: A Shapeshifter Anthology (2021) — Avustaja — 2 kappaletta

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Wow, what a tale. Steeped in the tenets of folk horror, but with a lore that is completely original to this story. Brutal violence, relentless dread, and unsettling imagery. This book is everything I wanted it to be and more!

The world that we're dropped into is a dark and disturbing one. An area of land encompassing several rural villages is held under the power of ancient gods who demand annual sacrifice from the townspeople in order to maintain balance between the worlds of human and other. Everyone has a part to play, and each year the wheel turns with gruesome results. Except this time there is a family who has given too much, and a mother and her daughter who refuse to submit any longer. But the powers that bind them are strong and seeped in dark magic. When mankind challenges the ancients, can anyone survive?

I can't express enough how much I love the lore/world that author Stephanie Ellis has created. The gut-wrenching rituals, the hierarchy of the supernatural order, the variety of terrifying beings, the connections/reliance on humans, and so on. It manages to somehow feel comfortably familiar while also staying full of surprises around every turn. The rituals themselves are BRUTAL, and one is constantly fearing for the safety of the main characters (and, no spoilers, but the author gives you good reason to be afraid). Thematic concepts of grief, suffering, oppression, silence, and modernity vs traditionalism are also explored and powerfully intertwined with the narrative.

I absolutely devoured this book. The writing style is easy to fall into and the story is completely engrossing. I love folk horror, and Stephanie Ellis has given us a spectacular addition to the genre!
… (lisätietoja)
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Reading_Vicariously | May 22, 2023 |
**Review originally published in SCREAM Magazine**

Imagine suddenly being struck immobile, unable to move or speak. Your brain and bodily functions are still active, but you’re trapped inside a body that has become like a stone prison. Hopefully, you didn’t freeze somewhere dangerous. Hopefully, you didn’t shut down away from others. Your very existence now depends on whether someone will find you and care for you.

This terrifying scenario is at the heart of Stephanie Ellis’s speculative sci-fi thriller Paused. A mysterious epidemic is quickly spreading across the globe. People are freezing without warning, hospitals are filling up, and chaos is spreading. No one knows what’s happening or who the disease will strike down next. It’s up to Dr. Alex and his research team to find a cure before it’s too late. But, the clock is quickly winding down, and each day, each hour, brings humanity one step closer to total shutdown.

The novella is reminiscent of science thrillers like those of Michael Crichton, with its rapid pacing, intentional focus on characters, and a conflict that examines both global devastation and individual panic. The author shows how this mysterious plague affects all people, and I appreciate that the POV changes some throughout the story. Some of the best chapters are the ones told from the perspective of the afflicted, as we see first hand how they become helplessly trapped in their own skin. It’s harrowing and quite disturbing, especially when their untimely inaction leads to their own death or the deaths of others. Imagine all the worst ways to die and not being able to do anything about it…chilling stuff.

The writing is fast-paced and urgent. You really feel the tension and fear of the scientists as they race against the clock, and the suspense continues to ratchet up as more and more people fall prey to the invisible enemy. I love the concept and the characters, but my biggest issue is that there’s not enough here. The pace, ironically, almost moves too quickly. There’s a lot tossed at the reader, but not all of it is fully fleshed out. I want more scenes of disaster, more insight into the malady, more trips out of the lab and into the real world, longer moments of character development, and so on. In short, I want Ellis to turn this into a full novel.

Thankfully, this is more than just another pandemic story. It serves as a thoughtful commentary on the various ways a society can break down. From individuals’ and governmental responses to research scientists and conspiracy theorists, Ellis has provided a full picture of how society can descend into chaos. An enigmatic disease that seemingly strikes at random is a terrifying force to reckon with, and you’ll be rooting alongside the scientists as they test every possible alternative to find the explanation. Despite the few qualms I have, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Paused by Stephanie Ellis.
… (lisätietoja)
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Reading_Vicariously | 1 muu arvostelu | May 22, 2023 |
Until now I’d resisted the temptation of reading any of the many post-Covid pandemic novels, but finally caved in with this one. The idea at the heart of it is such a good one: for anyone who’s read Jean-Dominique Bauby’s first-hand description of it from the inside (in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly), how about if what’s ripping though the population is an unstoppable epidemic of Locked-in Syndrome? Nightmare.
    Alex Griffiths’s first encounter with it is on his way home from work one evening when he spots a neighbour still sitting on the same park bench he’d seen him sitting on that morning. Although alive, the man is rigid, like a seated statue, apparently comatose. During the days which follow, a trickle of similar cases turns into a flood and, online, videos are being posted showing people frozen in mid-stride on street corners—as if “paused” there, hence the book’s title. Before long the whole human world is beginning to unravel.
    Alex himself is head of one of the labs at Southampton University in the south of England, and as the cases pour in his team set about identifying and isolating the virus—if it is a virus, that is, because there are other possibilities too. Seen from the outside, as with Locked-in Syndrome, whatever is causing it seems to leave its victims in a vegetative state; on the inside though they are still horribly conscious, trapped within their own inert bodies. It is a nightmarish idea: you could be anywhere at the moment you freeze like this: safely at home maybe, perhaps even tucked up in bed—but then again, you might be outdoors, with night falling…or driving a car…
    Although I thought the writing itself could have used one final edit perhaps (just very occasionally had to go back through a paragraph a second time) this is a decent read, just right for a pouring wet afternoon curled up in an armchair. And as for the author’s portrayal of the media during this pandemic: “There was almost a gloating element to the coverage, a competitive edge between the channels as they sought to outdo each other on the fear scale…triggering terror amongst the population, whipping up people’s anxieties.” Yep, clearly Stephanie Ellis hasn’t forgotten that part of it just as I haven’t.
… (lisätietoja)
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justlurking | 1 muu arvostelu | Oct 27, 2022 |
When Tyler was a child his father disappeared, and his mother grew hateful and bitter. She often sent Tyler to spend time with his grandfather even though she herself would not set foot in his creepy old house, neither knowing nor caring how Tyler was treated there. At long last Grandfather is dead and the house belongs to Tyler... or does Tyler belong to the house? This could be the chance that Tyler needs to get back on his feet and out from under his mother's thumb or it could be a way to trap Tyler's son into the family curse. This was a quick and creepy read that reminded me a bit of Burnt Offerings. (The movie not the book, I still need to read that someday!)

I received an advance copy for review.
… (lisätietoja)
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IreneCole | Jul 27, 2022 |

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