Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Pandora's Box, A Review

This time I'm reviewing Pandora's Box by Joanna Parypinski, published by Damnation Books. I came across this book on Facebook, as the author asked for people interested in reviewing her new book. It took me some time to jump in the boat as the cover art made me fret this was yet another vampire book. However, the blurb won me over and boy, am I happy I took the chance.

Pandora's Box is the story of Maria Vakros, a woman fighting her own demons in order to reclaim control of her life as she and her husband, a teacher by trade, start anew in the small town of Sickle Falls. Leaving behind the big city of Chicago, they buy a quaint old house in the nicer part of town with a beautiful view of the lake, but hiding in the shadows of the basement lies an ancient horror waiting to be unleashed. It has infected the whole town, even causing the previous owners untimely deaths.

The plot is well constructed, weaving five different stories without making it confusing nor heavy. At all times the narrative is fluid and interesting, the sense of doom and horror is well transmitted without the overuse of adjectives. The story starts slowly, building on the mystery and creating a menacing atmosphere, and though there are segments quite violent, it never gets too graphic or gory. I found particularly refreshing the rich vocabulary Parypinski uses, it has been a while since a book made me open a dictionary, and though I always thank an author who teaches me something, when the uncommon vocabulary forces you to interrupt the reading in order to look for a word, it gets in the way of enjoying the book. I mean, if you use obscure words that the reader can deduct from the general context, you're okay, but don't over do it or you risk looking like a snub. Now, Parypinski doesn't go to that extreme but once, so we won't hold it against her.

The characters are interesting and complex and each individual story builds to a final crescendo that has all kinds of unexpected turns. Parypinski's style is refreshing, almost poetic in her descriptions, giving the horrors depicted a tragic and twisted feeling. It is outstanding how much information the author manages to convey and still leave the reader craving for more, in particular when relating the story of the box, and yet the ending feels a bit abrupt; but knowing how difficult it is to find the perfect balance between giving closure to a character's story and simply going too far, I think Parypinski's decision to give the final word to one of the side characters is an interesting one that explains the insertion of the box's story and allows for a small moral very apropos.

I highly recommend Pandora's Box to every horror lover, even the squeamish ones as there's something for everyone in this mystery/horror. An outstanding story edited to perfection, Pandora's Box shows small presses can be every bit as professional as the Big Six.

For more information on the author, go to her website Pandora's Pen. If you want to add this book to your TBR pile, go here.


Mrs. Jones said...

Oh it sounds good! I dont always like horror... Especially good ones (i know that sounds wierd... why wouldnt i like he good ones? but see, if its really good, Ill get nightmares. my dreams are way too vivid to read many horror...)
Anyways... I didnt think anything about vampires when I saw the cover. I though, "Holy Crap thats a creepy awesome cover!"
Great review, as always

Gina said...

I know exactly what you mean. The better the book is, the more intense the nightmares get. LOL I do get a lot of nightmares about the books I read, and why I keep reading and loove horror is beyond me, but this one in particular I enjoyed but didn't have nightmares. Might be one good for you! =)

Anonymous said...

Hi Gina!
I read andenjoyed this one too. I often find books told from several multiple character somewhat taxing, but you're right in that Parypinski makes it work in this case. My "review" is at if you'd like to read.

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