Mr Sticks: Jeffrey Hale
Reviewed By Steve Stred
- Paperback: 250 pages
- Publisher: Sands Press (25 April 2019)
This may come as a surprise to those folks who have interacted with me or know how my imagination works – but I’ve never spent much time on Creepypasta nor on Reddit. I don’t know why. I’ve just never made the effort and I can’t see that changing. I did look into Creepypasta while reading this book to see if this was based on a real character, much like Slender Man, but didn’t find anything that says it’s based on a real story.
When Mr Sticks was offered up, I read the synopsis and was very intrigued. As well, the cover has that corn-field going for it, which is a draw for most horror fans.
The story follows Lucia as she returns to her small town in search of her younger sister, who has gone missing. As with most stories based around a return to a small town, Lucia inevitably bumps into a number of people who have been in and out of her life until she fled for the big city.
The singular difference here is that Lucia was diagnosed while in High School with Multiple Sclerosis and as such this plays a large role within her history with the town but also with her former friends. I felt a connection through the diagnosis as my grandmother had MS my entire life before she passed. I was glad to see Hale incorporate struggles of fatigue and loss of weakness into Lucia’s storyline.
The book opens with a riveting chapter that sets up the Mr Sticks back story, and I was really excited to find out more of the back end.
For me, this story was a fun read but ultimately left me wanting more in a few areas. More urgency for the search for Lucia’s sister. More details about Mr Sticks and his Labyrinth. More response from the police department. Hale made a decent point about why the search was stalled by the local police, but it still felt stunted, especially as the time period went along.
Ultimately the two things that brought the rating down for me from a four or even a four and a half star read, was the frequent breaks from searching (if it was me and my sister or family member that was missing, I wouldn’t be dawdling over the course of a week. I’d be following every lead as soon as it came along) and the ending.
I finished the book about four days ago and I’m still mulling the ending over and what exactly it meant. I don’t get it. I want to. I want to love this book, as there’s so much to offer, but it just felt like it frequently arose to a pinnacle of excitement before slowly deflating before my eyes.
The writing was top notch and the story moves along nicely. Hale does a great job discussing the interpersonal relationships and the various intricacies that are following Lucia along as she is in town. It was a decent YA Horror read, but at the end of it, I just wished more happened and that the ending had been significantly more satisfying.
Star Rating (out of 5): 3.5*
The darknet is filled with monsters. It’s frequented by thieves, drug dealers, child predators, and cold-blooded killers.
But Mr Sticks is the most fearsome of them all.
Mr Sticks uses the darknet to locate the lost and vulnerable; to lure young men and women into his web. And once he has a fly in his web, he doesn’t let go.
Nobody knows what happens to Mr Sticks’ victims after the dance is done, but Lucia, an office administrator from Eaton, Colorado, is determined to find out. Before her sixteen-year-old sister becomes another notch on Mr Sticks’ belt.
Steve Stred is an up-and-coming Dark, Bleak Horror author.
Steve is the author of the novel Invisible, the novellas Wagon Buddy, Yuri and Jane: the 816 Chronicles and two collections of short stories; Frostbitten: 12 Hymns of Misery and Left Hand Path: 13 More Tales of Black Magick, the dark poetry collection Dim the Sun and his most recent release was the coming-of-age, urban legend tale The Girl Who Hid in the Trees.
On June 1st, 2019 his second full-length novel, The Stranger will be welcomed to the world.
Steve is also a voracious reader, reviewing everything he reads and submitting the majority of his reviews to be featured on Kendall Reviews.
Steve Stred is based in Edmonton, AB, Canada and lives with his wife, his son and their dog OJ.
You can follow Steve on Twitter @stevestred
You can visit Steve’s Official website here
Ahhh… nothing like the annual summer family camping trip, right?
Malcolm, his wife Sam and their two kids have been staying at the same cabin, at the same campground for years now. Heck, Malcolm’s been coming to the campground since he was a kid.
Miles and miles of groomed trails, hiking, kayaking on the pristine lake. What’s not to like?
But this year… well this year’s different. You see, roof repairs have caused them to have to change their plans. Now they’re staying at the cabin at the end of season, in fact they’re the last campers before it closes for the winter.
While happy to be spending time with the family, Malcolm feels a shift.
The caretaker next door makes it known he hates him.
The trees… move and dance, as though calling him, beckoning him.
Then on a seemingly normal kayaking trip, the family makes a discovery.
YOU TAKE FROM ME
I TAKE FROM YOU
Something’s out there, just on the other side of the fence. Malcolm’s positive it’s just the caretaker trying to scare him, teach the family a lesson.
But what if it’s not…
What if there is something out there?
The Stranger is the second novel from Steve Stred and 9th release overall. The Stranger is another offering following in the footsteps of similar books Invisible, YURI and The Girl Who Hid in the Trees. As Steve describes his works; “dark, bleak horror.”
With this release, Steve has decided to look deeper into what makes humans tick. He confronts two key elements of mankind; bigotry and our environmental footprint.
Featuring stunning cover art by Chadwick St. John (www.inkshadows.com), The Stranger will be a story that will leave you feeling uneasy and have you looking at the trees differently.
Maybe it’s not the wind making the branches sway…