Saturday, April 12, 2014

Curiosity Killed Shaney by J.C. Wallace

Title: Curiosity Killed Shaney
Author: J.C. Wallace
Purchase at Rooster and Pig Publishing
Purchase at All Romance eBooks
Cover Artist: Lex Valentine
Genre: paranormal, horror
Length: 74k
Formats: epub, mobi, pdf, print

Shaney's curiosity is always getting him into trouble, including stumbling into a ritualistic circle and being imbued with an energy that will eventually tear him apart. He soon finds that Hudson, a man he cares for deeply, might be responsible for his misfortune. Add in the betrayal of his best friend Todd and the desire of a demented occultist named Silas determined to control the energy inside of him and there seems to be no way out. Can Shaney find a way to rid his body of the nefarious energy before he dies a horrible death?


This was a wild, crazy ride of a story. The title character, Shaney, is a walking disaster zone. Inanimate objects suicide in his presence, humans find their minds leaking out through their ears, and reality bends in odd directions, leaving bystanders agog. Shaney’s a very strange, sweet, manic trouble magnet, whose good heart doesn’t keep peculiar things from happening.

So if anyone’s going to get zapped by occult energy, it’s him. Ditto barfing on the hottest guy in town. Hudson has his own reasons for keeping such a lunatic around. Shaney being Shaney, all these things are related.

There’s a good reason for all of the above, which is the devil’s own tangle to unravel. The poor guy doesn’t know who to trust, when everyone claims to know what’s best for him and they can’t all be right.

This is an often fun, sometimes gag-worthy romp through the supernatural, where Shaney’s at the center of plots and spells. Everyone wants something from him, all in such dizzying succession that the reader’s head spins as much as Shaney’s. Lost in this maelstrom is all the relationship development between Shaney and Hudson, who go directly from let’s fix this pipe to love you baby. I flinch when grown men call each other baby. Shaney’s name at least keeps him from presenting as wholly adult. This isn’t a good thing when combined with sex.

The book seems to be two different stories cobbled together. The beginning is romantic comedy: how can I attract this wonderful guy (or avoid repelling him before lunch), which morphs into supernatural danger and how to resolve it. The pace becomes so frantic that it obscures whether or not the supernatural aspects make sense, or whether antagonists Caleb and Silas intend anything fundamentally different. The Sacred Geometry is an interesting take on the workings of power, but the total insufferability of two of the major occult players plus various hangers on diluted the effect, and no one person actually looked like “the good guy,” aside from Shaney. This is excellent in plain horror, but goes against the lighthearted initial tone and actively works against the love story. Everything did eventually twine together, though sometimes in ways that left me squinting. The end came together well. I didn’t think humorous paranormal horror was a thing, but here it is.

Readers who like or accept instalove will enjoy this story, believing Hudson’s devotion. I had some issues with his backstory and methods, though not with his character. Shaney’s amusing, which makes it tough to watch what he goes through, which is entirely serious and intermittently gory. They’re good together, so maybe now that the active zapping is over and love has been pledged, they can get to know one another. 3.5 marbles

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