Cover Image: King's Hill: A Horror Novel

King's Hill: A Horror Novel

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A gritty, intense, fast-paced, riveting, artful melding of stunning psychological thrills and nail-biting suspense. An edgy mystery full of dark secrets, shocking plot twists and pulse-pounding, palpable tension. A MUST for fans who thrive on superbly-written, unputdownable horror and thrillers!

*I received a complimentary ARC of this book in order to read and provide a voluntary, unbiased and honest review, should I choose to do so.

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Sadie and her husband Trevor have recently relocated for his job as a college professor. Sadie suffers from multiple autoimmune conditions, leaving her entire body in excruciating pain. Still, in an effort to maintain some semblance of normalcy, she takes a teaching job. But this isn't an ordinary job. Sadie is teaching a writing class upon King's Hill, home to a maximum security prison, and a notorious serial killer.

With doses of mystery, cosmic horror, and psychological thriller, King's Hill is more than just a standard horror novel. Sadie is a character you can't help but love, even when she makes some rather questionable health decisions. This book is spooky and atmospheric. Even though you know Ed Mills committed the murders, youa re kept on your toes as he trickles the truth of events to Sadie, one notebook at a time. I was truly shocked by several turns of events along this literary journey.

Thank you to NetGalley and Wicked House Publishing for this ARC. I am leaving this review voluntarily and all views expressed are my own.

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This is a gothic mystery. The writing is gripping and characters are interesting. The suspense stays till the end. It has been narrated from the Perspective of Sadie, A creative writing teacher at King’s Hill Local Prison. While Edward Joseph Mills is a local boogeyman and convicted serial killer. He shares his story through the manuscript. Sadie feels drawn to it and eventually she gets tangled in a world of money, violence, magic, sacrifices, blood, gore and darkness.

Trevor and Eleanor are such an interesting characters too. Mills is a mysterious character. And Sadie is a little complex but surely an interesting character. So many unexpected things happens in plot and things take a dark turn revealing the world that lies beneath the king’s hill.

I am grateful to Author, Publisher and Netgalley for giving me opportunity to read this book.

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First off, I love the cover for this book. Such creepy vibes and it complements the story well. After reading the description, I was expecting a weird and unsettling tale and it is exactly what I got and more. I loved how the serial killer Edward Joseph Mills told his story to Sadie through his witting. In telling it this way, it feel like the author was able to capture not only his story but the atmosphere in which his story takes place. I must admit I was not ready for so much supernatural horror but I loved it. During this first half of the book, I had an idea of where the story was going but I was absolutely wrong. I loved being terrifyingly surprised! I definitely recommend to all horror readers!

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I really enjoyed this book, it was atmospheric and creepy, i devoured it in two sittings. Would definitely recommend it.

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King's Hill is a spooky, thrilling read that I felt was reminiscent of writers such as King, Straub, and Matheson. The setting and story development were good and was a fun read.

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King's Hill was very creepy and had an amazing atmosphere throughout. It felt like Lovecraft meets 80s/90s horror, which was pretty cool.
The characters are pretty realistically written, which is very helpful, in my opinion. While I enjoyed the book, I didn't like Sadie much and felt the story slowed a bit in the middle. All in all, this is a really great book, and I will definitely read Josh Hanson's books in the future.

Thank you, Wicked House Publishing and Netgalley for the ARC. All opinions are my own.

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Thank you to Netgalley for this spooky read!
This one was creepy, but also had an old school King vibe to it that I didn’t hate. Went a little into the supernatural but not way out there for my taste.

I was hoping to see more with the serial killers in the Prison but I can see how that would be hard to write in.

Overall really good 4/5 ⭐️

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I really enjoyed this story! The vibe was completely dark & suspenseful, and kept you flipping pages to see what was coming next! The characters were well fleshed out & relatable (MC), and the pace was perfection. Really enjoyed this!

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I enjoyed this book. It’s funny how it was able to stick with me. I started reading this book Back in Oct, got away from reading for quite some time yet I still had this book with me when I picked it back up to finish it.

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This was such a great horror novel, I enjoyed the use of prison as it’s usually a scary place anyway. I thought the use of the murders was great added to the tense atmosphere. The characters felt like they were suppose to and glad I got to read this. Josh Hanson has a great writing style and I enjoyed reading this book.

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Thank you to NetGalley for allowing me to read the ARC of this book. I love books where the silent serial killer finally tells what happens so the synopsis grabbed me right away. The main character, Sadie, suffers from several autoimmune diseases, which I don't normally see in a book so was good to have, however, I feel that the balance between this and the point of the story which was the killer's confession was not even. Overall this book was just ok, it didn't knock my socks off and I had to get 3/4 of the way into it for it to grab me. Maybe it just wasn't for me.

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This is another horribly brilliant book from Wicked House Publishing. An engrossing supernatural story with a great main female character. Recommended.

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My thanks to NetGalley and Wicked House Press.

Sadie and Trevor Roth are married twenty-something academics; Trevor a newly minted PhD., and Sadie a former Master’s student. Sadie suffers from an autoimmune disorder and her body has begun attacking itself, leaving her in constant pain. Having recently moved into a new neighborhood in Northern California to begin their new life together, Sadie accepts a job teaching Creative Writing to a group of inmates at the maximum-security prison in King’s Hill. There she meets Ed Mills, a serial killer convicted of murdering and butchering a slew of young women in the 1980’s. He is old now, dying, and is a student in Sadie’s class. Sadie finds herself drawn into his world of Ceremony, the occult, and sacrificial rituals as he begins to write about his heinous crimes and the mystery surrounding them; will she be able to escape the rabbit hole he seems to be leading her into before it’s too late?

Josh Hanson is a capable writer. He builds a good premise; his settings are familiar if you’ve ever visited the Bay Area and points north, and acceptably descriptive if you haven’t. His characters are believable, if not necessarily likable. The story is written in a way that sounds very much like one of two things (and I think this is my main gripe): either an older person trying to sound like a “hip” Millennial, using all the right buzzwords and slang, or a middle-of-the-road liberal’s version of what they think young Progressives sound like. There is no end of characters bashing capitalism and decrying the abusive and dehumanizing penal system we have, not to mention the evils of privatized healthcare and the skyrocketing costs of living (all of which are views I fully share and endorse, being the proud libtard that I am), but it all somehow sounds staged, like he’s trying to write in someone else’s voice in a language he understands but can’t quite speak fluently. I’m guessing his true voice comes out in the sections where we are reading, from Sadie’s POV, Mills’ journals, detailing the killings and the events leading up to and surrounding them. It is in these sections he sounds most honest and feels like he was able to really just unwind on the page, let things flow, rather than trying to transcribe unconvincing voices. These sections possess a confidence and craft that is mostly absent from the rest of the book and suggests that he is a much better writer than he is allowing himself to be here. Indeed, if the entire book had been in the format of Mills’ journals, I feel the overall effect would have been much better, and more convincing. Being this is my first encounter with Josh Hanson’s work, I don’t know if this is his usual style or not; anyone more familiar with his work please let me know.

I wasn’t a fan of the main character, Sadie. I found her somewhat unlikable, obtuse in her manner and maybe a bit self-centered. I don’t quite understand the reason for giving her the medical conditions she has, other than providing a dangling carrot at the end, some type of leverage for the villain to use to try to get what they want. The moments where she is forced to slow down or stop to deal with her pain and get her breath seemed a little superfluous and unnecessary. I felt they threw off the pacing and didn’t really contribute much to her development as a character or move the plot forward. There is a bit at the end where Hanson (slightly) explores the idea of identity as defined by your bodily limitations, being ill vs. being whole, and maybe that was the whole reason behind her medical issues, but it seems like a whole lot of effort for very little payoff if that is indeed the case.

Which is not to say the book isn’t without its merits. Trevor is a good character, and despite the above criticism, he feels more honest than the protagonist as a person and character. I chalk this up to Hanson having firsthand experience of what it was like to be a hip, cool young man and exactly zero experience being a hip, cool young woman. I also liked the 80’s version of Carson Childs, the rich kid heir who brings Ed Mills into the orbit of the occult rituals that come to dominate his life. The main reason being that as I read him on the page, I kept picturing Alfred Molina’s character in Boogie Nights, coked out of his mind and flying high while blasting cheesy 80’s synth rock dressed in a bathrobe and pajama pants. Swap out Night Ranger for Madonna, and it’s a perfect fit. Just get someone randomly lighting off firecrackers in the background and we’re off to the races. And as I mentioned, the sections where we read Mills telling his story, while not exactly pleasant due to the subject matter and events, certainly feel more whole and honest, and are much more of a pleasurable read.

As to the meat and potatoes of the story (aka, the blood & guts), it takes its time building up and getting there. Not everyone is a fan of the slow burn, but I definitely am. I wouldn’t exactly call this a slow burn of a book, but it is certainly in no rush getting to where it’s going. And aside from a handful of graphic descriptions of the murders and the ending, the gore is kept to a minimum, so if that’s your jam, you may want to look elsewhere. The creeps are built more on occult and Lovecraftian style spookies rather than the slice-n-dice or creature feature variety. We are definitely dealing with eldritch horrors from beyond reality here, though they are only ever glimpsed; we are never shown the whole enchilada, and are thus left to imagine them for ourselves, to fill in the blanks, which I find a more effective tactic. The book does link it in a bit with the infamous Satanic Panic of the 1980’s, but that feels more like window dressing rather than an essential component.

While I was overall disappointed with this book, I can’t say it was a complete loss. If you’re a fan of Lovecraft, the occult, 80’s-style old school horror (check the cover art, they nailed it there) set in the modern day, then this may be for you. No thumbs up or down, just a “meh” shrug.

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Enduring constant pain from various health issues, Sadie Roth volunteers at a local prison to teach writing. Encountering Edward Joseph Mills and his horrifying history sets her on a road to not only publish his horrific crimes but also to redeem some of her perceived losses.

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As I got into the passenger seat of my car after a day out, in screaming pain, I thought to myself I want to get home and finish this book.

This book was magnificent. I enjoyed every second of it, and related so thoroughly to Sadie and her struggles and pain and feelings of body betrayal even though we only share one diagnosis. I thought the description of her pain and her denial of it were very realistic. Well done!

The story itself had me hooked at the beginning, but who doesn't love weird sex murder cults that open seemingly cosmic doors? This is a ride, one that takes you through multiple levels of fear and love and dedication. I will certainly read Hanson's next masterpiece.

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Thank you NetGalley and Wicked House Publishing for this advanced copy! I really enjoyed King's Hill - it blended horror, supernatural, and true crime vibes perfectly while still holding onto Sadie's very human story of dealing with her chronic illnesses. I really sympathized with her (and wanted to shake her sometimes to go to the doctor!!) All of the characters, even the "bad guys", were so real, written to have quirks and flaws but also so undoubtedly human. The dialogue was sharp and very modern, lots of references to American society in general, some emotional/political stances - it was woven into the story well so I didn't mind but I could see people not necessarily jiving with that. Hanson is a solid writer which made it easy to get lost in this world. I was craving more of a twist ending - while there was a reveal, it didn't feel like much of a surprise, but that didn't take away from the quality of the story. It was an intense and well-written ending that felt like a good payoff. Also shoutout to the cover! Really love it!

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Going into this book, I expected a 'Silence of the Lambs' type of thing, with the occasional occult mystery thrown in. Nothing of the sort: this is much better, way weirder than I thought. Although it does involve occult elements, the story rests on much more sinister twists, with a slow building of the characters and a step-by-step descent into a world of sex-fuelled magic and bizarre rituals. Overall, Hanson's book is an easy read and should appeal to all horror fans, especially the ones who got into horror by reading classic '80s horror novels!

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the chance to read the book in advance of publication and review it.

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Thank you to Wicked House Publishing and NetGalley for providing a review copy.
This book was SO GOOD. The story had be hooked right from the start. The witty dialogue and lush descriptions put me in mind of books by T. Kingfisher (whom I love). The thing that struck me the most about this book was how devastatingly accurate the depictions of living with a chronic pain condition are. Those scenes rang painfully true, and I appreciated the sensitive handling of that topic.

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This book feels like a throwback to the 1980s horror type books. Especially with that cover, if you told me it was written in the 1980s, I'd believe it.

We start in the present with Sadie Roth who is volunteering at a prison as a writing instructor. Sadie suffers from Lupus, Fibromyalgia, and ... something else. She's in constant pain and her body is stopping her from being able to most anything. (As an aside, every time they said "Lupus", I heard Dr. House saying "it's never Lupus"). The author does a great job of describing Sadie's struggles as well as her denial about the pain. She was a fleshed out and believable character. It got a little tedious hearing about her pain and her choices to not properly manage it, but it made sense and was believable.

At the prison, she encounters Edward Joseph Mills. He was convicted for occult-style murdering women in the 1980s at the height of the Satanic Panic, though Mills never spoke out about anything he did or why. Mills is close to death from a lung illness, but before he dies, he's writing out the story of what really happened (according to him) back then and is giving the journals to Sadie.

Sadie gets drawn into the story, which is way weirder than she thought - there are a few other people involved, there are rituals, sex, magic, and all sorts of weird things. Unsurprisingly, she has to know what happens next and has to find out if the story is true or if Mills is manipulating her for some unknown reason.

The journal and the story happening in the past was very interesting and I couldn't wait to find out what happened next. The first part of the present wasn't the most exciting; it was an important part since it developed the characters and gave us a lens for the journals. I appreciated the shift about halfway through when more starts happening in the present. I also really liked how the author handled Mills - I was expecting it to be a Silence of the Lambs type thing where Sadie has to keep coming back to Mills and Mills keeps getting involved, but the author didn't go that route which was a pleasant surprise.

This was a great story and readers of classic horror stories should enjoy this.

Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for this advance review copy.

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