Abandoned House (2021)
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (01/2022)
Jimmy Johannsen is attending Columbia University when he receives a call that his twin sister was killed by a city transit bus that ran her over. Returning home to Thunder, AZ, he notices that the town has drastically changed. The townsfolk don’t know it yet, but a portal to Hell has opened. Shortly after Jimmy’s arrival, he witnesses terrorizing events that destroy the town and all the people in it. All die, except for Jimmy and a man named Hell Finn. Hell is someone on a quest of his own; he has come to town to assist with the destruction, and Hell is “hell-bent” on complete annihilation.
“Thunder, AZ,” immediately captured my attention. The storyline is unique, and there are subplots that make it even more engrossing. The backstory behind what caused the portal to open is also very interesting and hasn’t been told before. The protagonist is somewhat naïve and quite likable, and readers will find themselves cheering him on. On the other side of the coin, the evil character is very well described and readers will find themselves completely repulsed by him. This revulsion adds to the overall feeling of being on a scary rollercoaster ride. Other supporting characters help round out the action. Their roles tend to be very lively and entertaining, and I liked the fact that not all of them were able to stay in human form. The combination of pure evil emanating from the “bad guys,” with the deadly environment, creates a truly frightening feeling of dread and death. I kept reading while hoping for some respite that never arrived. And while that sounds absolutely terrifying, this is actually the exact reaction I want to experience when reading something horrific! I believe all horror lovers will agree.
The author, Ari Loeb, does an excellent job of vividly bringing to life the settings, and created an illusion that made me feel like I was “watching” the story, rather than reading it. He is a writer with an amazingly gifted talent for spinning a tale. I was enjoying “Thunder, AZ” almost immediately upon opening the book. I even stopped to see if Loeb had any other books out there, so that I could continue to enjoy his writing after I finished this one. I guarantee you’ll feel the exact same way after you’ve read this unforgettable tale!