Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Mateguas Island is a horror/dark fantasy novel written by Linda Watkins. Karen and Bill Anderson are a California couple with eight-year-old twin daughters. Things were pretty bright for Bill, a rising Silicon Valley star, until a minor discretion with the boss's wife and the economic downturn made him the one to be laid off when his company downsized. When Bill hears that his Aunt Janie has left him her big, old house on Mateguas Island, Maine, along with a small cash inheritance, it seems like a gift from the gods. Karen is not at all that thrilled, however, as the island seems primitive and the amenities are nowhere near those she'd been accustomed to. Then there was the girls' teacher, Maggie, who seemed to have established an instant and intense connection with Bill. Also troubling are the old tales that the house is haunted, especially the woods behind it.
Linda Watkins' supernatural thriller, Mateguas Island, is an exciting and suspenseful story rich in Native American mythology and folklore. There's a secret box that the girls find hidden underneath a floorboard in their room that holds strange papers, a bone knife, and other arcane objects. They decide to keep it as their own little secret to hold onto and decipher. Karen has her own adventures as she tries to adjust to life on the little island and discovers that her garden has some unusual properties and inhabitants, especially the rabbit that smiles at her. Bill's island fling is spooky, scary, and he seems more enmeshed in her snares than really involved with her. Add all these undercurrents of intrigue together and you get a fast-paced and unpredictable story that is both spooky and entertaining. Mateguas Island is an absorbing horror tale and is highly recommended.
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Native American folklore blends with a tale of suspense and horror in the multifaceted Mateguas Island, the story of the Anderson family who is forced to relocate to rural Maine where they face a rising evil that could destroy not only their family, but the world.
Be forewarned: this is first in a projected trilogy of novels about the Andersons: being first, it properly sets the scene and builds protagonists - but also being first, it offers no neat or set conclusion but leaves the door ajar for another offering.
With this caveat in mind, embark on a journey of terror and challenge, cemented by the relationships and personalities of the Anderson family members. There's father Bill and his eight-year-old daughter Terri who know relatively little about their new island home and its legends. There's wife Karen and other daughter Sophie. And all of them are about to embark on the ride of their lives, taking readers along for the show.
Their move to the island has been anything but smooth: Bill's job loss has led to this transition and Karen resents him for it despite her efforts to be fair. Underneath it all she just knows Bill has contributed to their dilemma and to the choices that have brought them to this remote outpost, far from everything she knows. What he optimistically views as a fresh start is less certain to Karen, and as events unfold she comes to realize that this new beginning involves more than uncertainty and will introduce terror into their lives.
Readers are drawn in from the start by a variety of elements; from innuendos about the island's Native American myths to your typical story of relocation and adjustment and especially its effects on the two Anderson children, who find that their explorations uncover dangers they couldn't have seen coming.
The movement back and forth between the girls' perceptions and their parents is well done in alternating chapters that provide a changing focus, neatly tying together any loose ends of events and their impact and drawing readers into the motivations and perspectives of each character.
Now, most stories of terror involve elements outside of the family: Mateguas Island employs a device other authors (most notably Stephen King in his classic novel The Shining) have successfully used in placing danger both outside and within the family structure.
Without giving away the plot's surprise twists, let's just say that despite challenges to its structure the family discovers resources that enable it to bond and face the threats that come from without and from within. As each family member finds themselves involved in something inexplicable, they realize they are not alone but have a support system that will ultimately either save them or destroy them: "Suddenly frightened, Sophie put her hand on her sister's shoulder. "Terri, I'm scared. What are you doing? Answer me." At her sister's touch, Terri shuddered and shook her head slightly, as if awakening from a deep sleep. "Soph," she said in a whisper. "How'd I get here?" "Don't know. You were reciting that prayer - the one to the dad of the dead."
What seems a beneficial inheritance will prove to be a deadly legacy if the Andersons can't overcome what's affecting their lives. Eventually it takes a letter from deceased Aunt Janie and a willingness to read it and accept its contents to confront the true legacy that is Mateguas Island.
Surprising twists and turns and a powerful old box filled with magic: these are the elements of a fine horror story that slowly builds its plot with believable protagonists and engrossing color.
Any who like horror stories and gothic fiction will find Mateguas Island an exceptional read.
MATEGUAS ISLAND has been named as a finalist in the 2014 CHANTICLEER BOOK REVIEW PARANORMAL AWARDS in the category CONTEMPORARY GOTHIC!
MATEGUAS is also a finalist in 2 categories (Paranormal/Supernatural and Horror/Suspense) in the IAN 2015 BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARD contest.
Congratulations to all the other finalists!
Mateguas Island, A Novel of Terror and Suspense by Linda Watkins was the recipient of the Gold Medal in Supernatural Fiction in the 2014 Readers' Favorite International Book Award Competition!
Mateguas Island was awarded an "Honorable Mention" in General Fiction in the 2014 Halloween Book Festival.
I am pleased to announce that I have entered into a contract with Tantor Media, Inc. to transfer to them the English-language audio rights to my novel, MATEGUAS ISLAND!
Tantor, located in Old Saybrook, CT, was purchased earlier this year by Recorded Books, Inc., a leading provider of unabridged audiobooks and digital content to the library, school, and retail markets.
Production of the audiobook is already underway and I look forward to 'hearing' my novel sometime later this year!
For more information about the MATEGUAS ISLAND BOOKS, please feel free to visit my website.
On June 19, 2015, MATEGUAS ISLAND, A NOVEL OF TERROR & SUSPENSE reached the #1 Bestseller Ranking in Horror/Dark Fantasy and Horror/Gothic Fiction on Amazon! In addition, the novel climbed to the #2 in Horror on KOBO and reached the #2 ranking for all NOOK books!The sequel to MATEGUAS, RETURN TO MATEGUAS ISLAND, also climbed the charts and is currently listed as one of Amazon's top 100 best sellers in Horror/Gothic! MATEGUAS ISLAND is currently on sale at Amazon, Nook, Kobo, iTunes and Google Play and can be purchased for only 99¢!
MATEGUAS ISLAND, A NOVEL OF TERROR AND SUSPENSE was recently named OUTSTANDING NOVEL OF 2015 IN HORROR/SUSPENSE by the INDEPENDENT AUTHOR NETWORK!
The novel, which has 97 five-star reviews on Amazon, will be released as an audio CD next week on August 25th. The audiobook will be available at Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and other audio CD booksellers!