I’m excited to be hosting a stop on the blog tour for Nemesister by Sophie Jonas-Hill today. Huge thank you to Abby for the opportunity! I have an extract for you guys and will also be sharing my review but first, here’s a wee something about the book and the brilliant cover.
Author : Sophie Jonas-Hill
Title : Nemesister
Series : Crooked Little Sisters
Pages : 320
Publisher : Urbane Publications
Publication date : July 6, 2017
Psychological mystery where the female protagonist stumbles into a deserted shack with no memory but a gun in her hand. There she meets an apparent stranger, Red, and the two find themselves isolated and under attack from unseen assailants.
Barricaded inside for a sweltering night, cabin fever sets in and brings her flashes of insight which might be memory or vision as the swamp sighs and moans around her.
Exploring in the dark she finds hidden keys that seem to reveal her identity and that of her mysterious host, but which are the more dangerous – the lies he’s told her, or the ones she’s told herself?
Nemesister starts off with a young woman stumbling into a deserted shack in the middle of nowhere. She’s lost her memory, can’t remember why or how she ended up at this remote location and has no idea why she’s holding a gun in her hand. She meets Red and the two of them find themselves isolated as Red’s truck won’t start and the unnamed young woman has severe blisters, can’t walk properly and has also been injured somehow.
Good grief, this is one dark read. It has this insanely creepy and eerie vibe bubbling away under the surface and at times even I, who wasn’t even in the room, felt uncomfortable and threatened. There are numerous questions to be answered. Who is this young woman? How did she get there? Who is Red? What does he want? If anything. And is he friend or foe? All I know is he gave me the heebie-jeebies. Above all, there’s a big mystery that needs to be solved but you’ll have to read the book yourself to know what that’s all about.
Set in the swamps of Louisiana, Nemesister is rich in atmosphere and I loved the setting as the surroundings felt just as oppressive as the shack itself. I must admit I did find some of the early chapters a wee bit confusing at times and I wasn’t sure if this book was going to be for me but then suddenly I found myself gripped nonetheless and eager to find out more. The author manages to leave a trail of breadcrumbs and all the pieces of the puzzle culminate into an exciting ending that I couldn’t have predicted at all.
Many thanks to Abby for the opportunity to join the tour and to Sophie Jonas-Hill and Matthew at Urbane Publications for my advanced copy and for providing me with the extract!
Nemesister was published on July 6th.
If my review hasn’t convinced you to give Nemesister a go, then maybe this extract will.
THE HOUSE HAD something American Gothic about it, though nothing it was minded to share. Wreathed in bougainvillea, it regarded me with the air of one recognizing an unwelcome visitor. There should have been a rocker on the porch or an old dog with greying muzzle, but they were missing.
I stumbled forward, focusing on my feet in their worn canvas sneakers with the impression of toes ground into the pink fabric. Everything hurt and my head pounded like something inside wanted out. The shadow of the house brought the scent of the blooms and the sighs of a swamp; the first step creaked, the second moaned, then my hand secured the wooden pillar at the top of the stairs. I paused, then pulled myself up. I looked behind me, but there was only the road, a line drawn in the dust against an endless, ochre expanse.
I faced a pair of cobweb-covered boots lolling by the door, and heaved myself in past them, plunging from bright into dark. The boots made no obvious objection.
The room I entered was soaked through with the heat of the day and heavy with the stink of damp canvas. There was no source of light save for the open door, and at first the space was a blur of camouflage colours and indistinct, lumbering shapes rendered anonymous by my sun–blind eyes. I made the middle of the room, walking as if on hot coals and became aware of a chair-huddled table, something that might have been a couch and something that probably wasn’t.
Panic gripped me, thundered in my head, as I groped in the dark of both room and subconscious. I knew everything but understood nothing from the giddying procession of images in my mind: red boots crossing a winter road, a hand on a steering wheel, the view from under a bed across a savannah of green carpet, pearl buttons on blue velvet, a brown dog barking.
I willed breath into my lungs and, as stars cleared from my vision, the room snuck into focus.
‘Whoa, hey!’ the man silhouetted against the yellow-white rectangle of the open door froze as I whipped round to face him. ‘Keep back,’ I demanded as the world spun out of focus again.
‘Okay … whatever you say …’ he said as his shadowed form sharpened into detail. ‘Let’s not be hasty now.’ He made no move toward me but remained in the doorway.
I swallowed, my tongue swollen to a stone in my mouth. ‘Okay, you stay … stay back.’
‘I’m staying back,’ he said. ‘It’s okay, I ain’t gonna hurt you … no need to fret none.’ He eased himself a step further into the room.
‘I mean it, stop right there!’
‘Okay … all right, darlin’.’ To my surprise he obeyed and raised his hands, gently patting the air between us. ‘But you sure you wanna…’ As I stepped back, pain spiked through my side and the shock of it had me panting. I blinked as a black, glittering tide threatened to engulf my vision.
‘I ain’t comin’ near you, all right?’ the man moved slowly, purposefully; took two steps to his left and reached for one of the wooden chairs by the table.
‘I’m just gonna take a pew here…’ He sat down and brushed at his knees before he settled back. Tears burned down my cheeks but my vision cleared and his taut, hard features converged into a face. He ran his hand through his hair, a little of which sprang up at his temples.
‘So … what we gonna do now?’
‘What’s your name?’ I asked, risking a step to my left and paying for it.
‘You wanna ask me that, now?’ he said, then smiled. ‘ Them that knows me …’ He coughed into his fist. ‘ Them that knows me, they call me Red. You know, you don’t look so good.’
He raised his eyebrow. ‘Maybe you wanna calm down a little here?’
I stepped backwards and my foot found the end of the couch. I pressed my shins against it, praying it would help me stand just a little longer.
‘You sure you know how to use that thing?’ I saw his eyes flick down. A gun – I was holding a gun, and had been for so long that it seemed fused to my hand, my fingers knotted round it. As I stared down, my arm began shaking treacherously; I gripped my left hand over my right, my pulse hammering in my head.
‘You wanna find out?’ I asked, staring at him but seeing only the gun.
‘I’m happy to take your word on it, only…’ He leaned a little to his right. ‘Only looks to me as if you’ve been shot already, so I’m not convinced that you do.’
‘Shut up, I mean it, shut …’ My breath was coming faster, harder, lungs heaving. Trying to keep the gun trained on him, I risked a glance at my side. In the second I looked, Red lunged forward.
He’d grabbed my wrists and yanked my arms up above my head before I’d even thought about screaming. He ripped the gun from my hand, turned me about and clamped his arms round me. Pain lit me up, blazed through my ribs and punched the breath from my body. I went limp and dropped to the floor but he went with me and broke my fall. I heard the gun impact seconds before I did.
‘Get the fuck off me,’ I said, trying to twist from under him.
‘Just you hold on.’ He had me on my back and twisted my hands together, pinning them above my head. ‘You need to hold still,’ he demanded, his face inches from mine, knees either side of me. ‘You come in here wavin’ that gun, what d’you expect? Jesus, darlin’, you gotta remember who’s you shootin’ at.’
‘Who the hell’s that?’ I asked.
He huffed a dry laugh. ‘You’re a piece of work and no mistake. Now look …’ He shifted position. ‘I’m gonna let you go now, so take it easy.’ He grinned. ‘You look fit to faint anyhow –you’s in a mess, girl.’
He let go. I struggled to get a grip on the floor, my hands scrabbling against damp boards for purchase, but pushing against the floor hurt like hell.
‘Get away from me!’ I managed to get up on my elbows, dragging, willing myself away from him. He grabbed at me and I inched sideways but he let me go at once.
‘Just hold on … look – we don’t need this shit, now–’ He snatched up my gun, and when he was sure I’d seen he was holding the barrel between thumb and forefinger, he clicked open the chamber. His face registered surprise. ‘Goddamn it, you were bluffing all along!’ He laughed, then with deft movements he disassembled the weapon and tossed it aside. ‘Whatever, see, I ain’t aiming to hurt you none, okay? Let’s just calm down now, shall we?’
I propped myself up, the last dregs of my adrenaline burning through my limbs and stealing sensation from my fingers.
‘What is this place?’ I asked and swallowed hard. ‘ This? Just a fishing lodge.’
‘Is it your place?’
He shrugged. ‘Sure, it’s mine.’
He bent over me again. ‘Look, you gotta let me take a look at you. What in the hell you done to your face?’
‘Don’t touch me!’ I jerked right, and the throbbing in my head turned vindictive in revenge for the sudden movement. I slumped back against the floor, screwed my eyes shut and forced my mouth to bite back a scream.
‘Hey!’ I felt him move closer, felt him get hold of me and turn my face to his. ‘Hey, you still with me?’ I looked once I had the scream under control, pressing my back against the floor and pushing against the pain. ‘Don’t you pass out on me here.’ He adjusted position to look into my eyes. Desperate not to meet his gaze, I clamped my jaw shut again and tried to thrash free of his grasp. The effort overwhelmed me; my head fell back into his hands and I let my eyes roll shut.
‘Hey, you ain’t checking out on me, not yet. Focus, ya hear, focus. Now, tell me your name, come on, say your name, say your name!’ I laughed, the sound breaking free involuntarily. Anything, he could have asked me anything, but the last thing I could have told him was my name.
‘My name …’ My mouth stretched into a grin despite everything, my lips dragging on my teeth. Barking dog, under the bed, little pearl buttons.
‘Your name … shit, count for me … count for me!’
‘One, two, three, that do you?’
‘Good, so what’s your name … what the hell’s your name?’
‘I don’t know my name!’
‘Mercy …’ he said as the darkness seeped back into my vision. ‘What on God’s green earth … you expect me to believe that?’ He tilted his head, one eyebrow arched as he frowned. ‘What you saying … you got no memory of your name?’
‘No name, no rank, no number, sir!’ I laughed and he let my head fall gently back to the floor. We looked at each other, and for one, desperate, joyful moment, I really thought he might tell me who I was.
‘How … unfortunate.’ He shook his head. ‘Well, darlin’, whatever the hell’s you about …’ He chuckled, but the sound fractured before it reached me. He seemed to be moving away, taking the world right along with him. ‘ that must have been one hell of a bump on your head.’
‘Please,’ I said, my hands inching against the floor. I tried to sit up again, but I could barely lift my head. It seemed I’d nothing left but to rely on the kindness of strangers. ‘I’ve got to get out, I’ve got … I’ve got to go, please!’ Dark brown and heavy, fatigue slunk through my limbs as my strength bled out from my fingers into the swamp, sucking and snatching at me from beneath the floorboards. When Red spoke again, his voice was indistinct, no more than the murmur of the dank earth below.
‘You ain’t going nowhere. Seems to me you oughta close up them pretty eyes now, get yourself some sleep.’ But I’d already closed my eyes, pretty or otherwise. As a sucking, glittering blackness pulled me into the quicksand of the day, I tried one last time to surface, but my mouth filled with dust-dry words which choked me.
‘You just lie back there, I’ll look out for you. Seein’ he never did.’’
Before I could ask, unconsciousness embraced me and his voice spiralled into darkness.
I had to get to … Paris. Paris? I had to get to … Paris?
You know you want to read this! Here are the handy-dandy links again.
And be sure to check out the rest of the awesome bloggers on the tour!