Cover Image: The Soul Stealer

The Soul Stealer

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Member Reviews

In the post #MeToo movement, one would have thought that Hollywood would have learnt from its previous mistakes.

In a world of debauchery, fuelled by drink, drugs and power. Their is one that differs. And, maybe just maybe it could be all be taking a turn for the worse.

Starting with the untimely death of her friend, and a little digging and research we find Trinity blowing up in the face of the local PD, who were taking it as a case of suicide.

Teaming up with ex-police man Nemo, the two set off in the first instance to find out just what had happend to her friend. They find themselves being pulled into a murky underworld, controlled by the

rich and the elite of Hollywood. It is not unusual for obscure cults or religious sects to set up base around the affluent.

This is taken to the extreme, an centuries old native indian shamen. Demanding sacrafise and worship for return, guarenteed success. The one thing that most are aiming for and that most crave.

It took me slightly longer to read this book than normal for one of this size. However, it kept me engrossed from the first page to the last. For the most part, it is completely believable, in so much that it could have actually taken place. Which lends to the story in a way that some books don’t come close to.

Would I recommend this book? I certianly would, without a shadow of a doubt. The story telling, plot and characters all lend to this being of the highest calibre.

Status: Completed

Rating: 4.7/5.0
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Having just read and been unable to finish Masterton's book The Shadow People, I thought I'd give this one a quick try to see if it was any better in terms of its depictions of race and gender. Nope. 2% of the way into the book a 14 year old girl is being fat-shamed. It's just unnecessary.  I don't like the way this author writes. It's 2022 not 1970 and this isn't for me.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of this book in return for an honest review.
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I finally finished reading this one after my library copy came in. It was quite decently spooky too which I liked! I find books are often sold as scary but don't live up to it. I look forward to reading more from Graham Masterton

Thank you to netgalley and the publishers for providing me with an arc for an honest review!
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Horror with a distinct 1970s/1980s vibe is definitely having a resurgence, as recent novels such as John Darnielle's <a href="https://www.criminalelement.com/book-review-devil-house-by-john-darnielle/">Devil House</a> and Simon Jacobs' <a href="https://www.criminalelement.com/book-review-string-follow-by-simon-jacobs/">String Follow</a> have shown. And who better to ride this wave than one of the luminaries of the scene himself, Graham Masterton, whose prolific, prize-winning career began in 1976 with The Manitou, a tale of body horror featuring his take on the Native American spirit of legend.

Fast forward nearly fifty years, and Mr Masterton has returned to his beginnings with The Soul Stealer, based this time on Tongva/Chumash mythology and beliefs. Set in present-day Los Angeles, the plot revolves around Trinity Fox, a 23 year-old house cleaner whose old high school friend Margo Shapiro calls her, desperate to meet. Trin agrees, but when she arrives at the agreed upon bar, finds that someone has followed Margo into the ladies' room and lit her on fire.

The bar owner immediately calls his old friend, disgraced former police detective Nemo Frisby, to come in on standby just in case the bar might be considered at liability. Thus both Nemo and Trin are stunned when, far too quickly, Margo's case is closed as a suicide. Nemo and Trin join forces to shake some trees in an effort to discover what really happened to Margo, only to have Internal Affairs show up to tell them to back off. The only real clue the duo has left is the fact that Margo attended some Hollywood parties that, after dazzling her at first, wound up really shaking her to the core.

Meanwhile, young Zuzana is a waitress with dreams of stardom and the reality of an abusive live-in boyfriend. When a Hollywood hot shot offers to take her to a party where she'll get to mingle with some of the movie industry's most powerful people, she doesn't hesitate, despite Rod's violent objections. But is she in for a whole lot more than she bargained for when her glittering dream of Hollywood turns into a nightmare of perversity?

Teeming with action, sex and violence painted in broad, vivid strokes, The Soul Stealer certainly feels like a throwback to reading the pulpy horror novels my Dad would pick up from the airport on his international business travels. At times, despite the references to #MeToo and COVID-19, it feels very much stuck in that era as well, but for the sly (and frankly well-deserved) digs at American healthcare and our treatment of our Indigenous peoples. More jarring was the fact that everyone spoke like a British person of the late 20th century. More than once did I mutter, ironically, "Stop trying to make fetch happen." Americans just very rarely use that word outside of a pet command.

Which leads, ofc, to the more glaring flaw of the novel, that the characters just didn't act like real people in the 21st century do. The sheer naivete of so many of the characters here, coupled with the cackling villainy of the bad guys, made the cast feel more out of Old Hollywood than 2022. I can believe that rich and powerful elites could get away with stuff like this even a handful of decades ago, but Harvey Weinstein's abuse of young actresses has been the worst kept secret in Hollywood since, oh gosh, at least 2007. I mean, even I knew about it then, and I live on the East Coast and have no connections to Hollywood besides tabloids and gossip blogs. Granted, the fact that he kept getting away with it for over a decade after that speaks to the ability of the mighty to evade justice, even without supernatural help. And the supernatural was, honestly, the most compelling part of this book, not the relatively flimsy characterizations. If you want to enjoy some throwback horror without exercising your brain too, too much, then definitely snag a copy of this novel.

Anyway, we're part of the book tour, spread out all over social media! Check out some of the other bloggers and their opinions using the infographic on the website!

The Soul Stealer by Graham Masterton was published March 3 2022 by Head Of Zeus and is available from all good booksellers, including <a href="https://bookshop.org/a/15382/9781801103930">Bookshop!</a>
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Trinity Fox receives a message from a friend saying she is scared and needs help. By the time she arrives to find out what is going on, she is too late to save her. After the cryptic message and unusual circumstances, when the police start insisting that her death was a suicide, Trinity is adamant that this was actually murder. She then teams up with ex-detective Nemo Frisby to try and work out what really happened to her friend.

The Soul Stealer in my opinion is more of a crime/detective novel with elements of horror, rather than a full-blown horror story. I think that the closest thing I’ve read in terms of format is The Outsider by Stephen King - what begins as a standard police investigation soon starts taking a bizarre and terrifying turn.

Having said that, if you are a ‘cosy crime’ fan and your favourite sleuths are Miss Marple or Joyce from The Thursday Murder Club, then this probably isn’t for you! This is a dark story which features people being held against their will, rape, torture and murder, on top of the underlying storyline of traditional Tongva Indian rituals, sacrifices and magic.

The traditional Indian practices set against the cutthroat and elite world of the film industry in California was really interesting. The Indian traditions and lifestyle are not something I know much about so it gave the story a unique edge for me. I would be intrigued to find out if some of the rituals and techniques mentioned were based on actual accounts.

Brutal and unusual, The Soul Stealer is perfect for fans of Stephen King or Stephen Graham Jones, crime fiction or horror fans - but remember, this is definitely one you won’t want to read with the lights out!
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Graham Masterton has weaved together an utterly creepy and spine-chilling horror story. No matter how much you try to prepare yourself before going into it, you’ll still be left reeling as the story unfolds and dark horrors are revealed. 

The story follows Trinity Fox, who discovers the body of her friend after receiving a call from her asking for help. When her death is ruled a suicide, Trinity knows there’s something more to it and works with former detective, Nemo Frisby, to uncover what really happened to her friend. Their investigation leads them to the Bel Air home of a wealthy movie producer, who sacrifices innocent people to a demon in order to make men more powerful and influential in the movie industry. 

As well as following Trinity and Nemo’s point of view, we also have Zuzana who is an unsuspecting victim and believes she’s being given a part in a movie. However, it soon becomes clear that the men in the house have other intentions for her and that they don’t plan on letting her leave the house alive. There’s some very disturbing scenes and I really felt sorry for Zuzana being trapped in that house experiencing horror after horror. I struggled to get through some parts of the story and I think you’d need a strong stomach for it. Masterton paints a very vivid picture of what’s happening and it makes the story incredibly dark. After reading some scenes with an increasing feeling of dread, I desperately wanted Trinity and Nemo to come and rescue her. 

I really liked Trinity and Nemo, and thought that they worked well together. There’s some scenes during their investigation that I felt could have been cut down as they went on for a bit too long, but there were definitely some interesting and unique scenes that helped to propel the story forward. 

The Soul Stealer is a sinister read that promises everything you’d want from a horror story. It will have you turning on the light and looking at the dark corners of your room. I highly recommend it for horror fans.
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Wow, another great book by Graham Masterton. Enjoyed the characters as they moved through the story. Pacing was good. Creepy and outright horrifying in spots. Can't wait to read more of Graham Masterton. #TheSoulStealer #NetGalley
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I’ve been a fan of Masterton for a long time. I’ve also stepped away from his books for a long time…some of it was pure availability, some of it was his newly found penchant for series, but at any case, I read one of his recent supernatural detective stories (yes, from one of those series) and it was lots of fun. Made me think, why not read more Masterton. This was the only other book of his available on Netgalley at the time, plus, a standalone, so yeah…
No. Categorically not. Should have listened to the other negative reviews of it for this is definitely one of Masterton’s lesser works. Authors have those, especially ones with such a gigantic oeuvre…the one offs, the ones done for a paycheck, sure, but it’s always disappointing coming across them. It’s one of those…knowing what they can do and seeing how short of that standard the book lands.
So, what’s wrong with Soul Stealer specifically? Oh, so much. It might have had any intention of being a decent read, possibly even a commentary on the seedy exploitative side of movie business, but instead it ended up being as seedy and exploitative of a read as a Weinstein’s casting couch. Too soon? 
For the backstory, and Masterton to his credit always done a fun one, he returns to his beloved Native American mythology. Ever since Masterton’s Manitou days, the man has been combing through the folklore and finding this or that terrifying deity’s myths to fictionally spin. In this book, it’s a deity that empowers the show biz movers and shakers…for a cost. 
Enter abduction, rape, and more rape, followed by sacrifice for good measure. Whatever statement this book had to make, it went way, way over the top with it, to the extent that it ends up gratuitous, prurient, and overall, dramatically cheap.
The plot features amusingly named protagonists – a young woman and an older former detective – who team up to defeat the evildoer wizards behind the curtains of the silver screens. The plot is preposterous, silly and way too skinemaxy for its own good. 
The writing is crap too, which is surprising. Not the crappiest of craps - Masterton after all these years, can probably spin a readable yarn in his sleep – but it’s very much bottom of the barrel. Also, not at all Americanized the way it ought to be for a story set in Los Angeles. Usually, Masterton is aces at that, but this story is loaded with Americans spouting Queen’s English and all sorts of Britishisms throughout, which is just distracting. Masterton has written tons of US-set books and usually does a terrific job on realistic place depiction, so this just serves to highlight how much lesser-than this book is.
Overall, with its leaf-thin plot and its thickly laid on sex and violence, often sexual violence, this depraved ditty will leave your soul intact, but is going to steal some of your time with nothing to offer for it. Pass. Thanks Netgalley.
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Soul Stealer is a horrifying and compelling page-turner that really pushes the edge of the genre and what’s readable; there’s no hiding it, some of the scenes in this book are horror in its most acute form.

This is a difficult one for me to review; it has certainly stuck with me and there are a few scenes than I don’t think I’ll get out of my head. With regards to how graphic it is, I can’t safely recommend this to anyone.

It is very brutal and hard to read in a lot of places – there’s extreme violence and torture, the likes of which I’ve not seen in a novel before. I don’t read many horror books and there’s a few particularly unsavoury bits that have really stuck with me. I wouldn’t recommend it for those who would suffer from such triggers. With regards to the plot, they sit nicely there, adding to the horror that awaits the main characters. It is grotesque but it is fitting with the plot in a way that drives it forward. With regards to how it sits within the genre, and what the genre aims to achieve, this works very well.

You have to know that it’s very clever writing and I guess it’s so much so that it passes off perfectly as ignorant and immature about some of the themes the book delves into, with regards to character voice and topics like the #MeToo movement in Hollywood – as it is a horror based around that industry. But this strikes to the very heart of character voice. I believe it’s sometimes hard not to confuse the voice in the book with the author’s on subjects like this where we have to at all times be considerate and sensitive, but I believe the authors successfully separates the narrative from fact, there’s a serious skill of character voice on display here. He really pulled the wool over my eyes. This is a review, yes, but it’s me sticking up for voice. It’s very important, sometimes, especially if it makes you feel uncomfortable. But most of all, it’s a sign of a good author.

The only note I’ll mention is the dialogue felt awkward at times for me; it all felt a little too deliberate and sometimes I felt the main characters were discussing things just to tell the reader and sometimes they explained things to people that I didn’t understand – i.e, an ex-cop telling everyone he met that he was being chased. It isn’t that extreme, but you’d have thought the guy might be a little more inconspicuous. But perhaps that’s part of Nemo’s character … and perhaps why he’s an ex-cop. If you were to read into it that way, then it works. But for me, at the time of reading, it was jarring.

Overall, it’s not a genre I’m widely read on, but the book did what it said on the tin and horrified me.
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When Trinity receives a phone call from her best friend asking to meet her at a bar she sounds more frightened than she has ever heard. By the time Trinity arrives Margo has been set on fire and the police are keen to close this as a suicide; with ex cop Nemo Frisby in her side can Trinity uncover the horrific truth before more deaths occur.

*Trigger warning this book contains descriptions of rape, sexual violence and graphic violence*
This is a difficult book to review as I started off being intrigued by Margo's death and the native magic of the ancients but the graphic sexually violent scenes left me quite uncomfortable.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review
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Nope. I’ve read some Graham Masterton novels before and knew that some of his writing can be ‘problematic’ with regards to portrayals of women. This though, I couldn’t finish it. This made me uncomfortable and, hey, sometimes misogyny needs to make someone uncomfortable to make a point. This novel wasn’t that. Rather, this one needs proofread again to remove the female portrayals and potentially salvage a novel worth reading. At this time I can’t recommend this at all.
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Former detective Nemo Frisby attends a death scene at a local bar. Also there is a young woman, Trinity Fox, who witnessed the death. She was to meet her very frightened friend there and looked for her in the restroom. She saw her friend in a toilet cubicle. She was on fire. The characters are so well drawn and the plot so well paced, I couldn’t put it down.
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3.5 stars (rounded up)
The Soul Stealer is the latest standalone by author, Graham Masterton. I’ve read all of Masterton’s Katie Maguire and thoroughly loved them, but this was my first standalone horror novel of his. If you’re looking for a creepy, disturbing horror novel which will leave you gasping out loud, then this one is for you. This book will require you to suspend belief and look beyond the somewhat two dimensional characters, but it will deliver an experience unlike anything you have read before. I like that Masterton doesn’t shy away from detail in his stories but it might be a little much for some people. Trigger warning: sexual assault. If you’re looking for fun, escapism and a little something different, I’d consider picking this one up. 

Thank you to the author, publisher and Netgalley for an advance e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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First off, I feel the need to point out that the synopsis is not entirely accurate. Trinity is a total stranger to Nemo, not his housecleaner, and the dead woman she discovers is actually a friend she was going to meet. 

With that out of the way, this was a really creepy story. I loved the Native American folklore and the sacrifice rituals. The demon, Weywot, was terrifying. Just as horrifying to me were the human characters- the celebrities who were exploiting and torturing these young women for their own gain. 

This one is really graphic. I wouldn't recommend to sensitive readers. There are a lot of triggers to be aware of, one of which is a really gruesome killing of a cat. I wanted to mention this one specifically because I know that is a deal-breaker for a lot of people. 

If you like Native American mythology, demons, or cult-like sacrificial rituals be sure to pick this up! This released yesterday!

Thank you to #netgalley and Polly at Head of Zeus for my gifted copy!
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Well, how an earth do you explain this! I LOVED this from the get go. How  have I missed this authors previous work!

This is dark, so so dark, but it’s well worth a read! I know there aresome hardcore bookstagrammers who wouldn’t even batter an eyelid at it, I didn’t 😂 I don’t think I will look at a scorpion again without thinking of that! 

I really liked how the story build, especially Trinity’s relationship with her brother and sister, I also liked seeing Zuzana POV. Well liked is the wrong word 🤔, but you will understand once you read the book.

Thank you so much to Polly at @headofzeus for inviting me to be a part of the blog tour and my #gifted copy.
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The Soul Steal by Graham Masterton is unfortunately a slow read. I found myself drifting to other places whilst reading and found it hard to focus on the book. At times it was a hard read with exploitation of the women featured. Altogether is wasn’t a bad read just ultimately too slow for me.
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Huge thanks to Polly at @headofzeus for my #gifted copy of the book and my invite to join the tour! 

⚠️Trigger Warnings - Death by Fire, Rape, Sodomy, Drugging, Alcoholism, Racism, Domestic Abuse, Graphic Violence ⚠️

This book was hard to read in some places (hence the trigger warnings) but was necessary to show the exploitation the old rich white men of Hollywood inflict on the young and beautiful women aspiring to make a name for themselves. Culminating in great sacrifice by those women for the gains of the men. 

When Trinitiy’s friend calls her in a panic, asking her to meet her within the hour, Trinity wonders what could have happened to make Margo so frightened. When she gets to their meeting point however, Trinity finds Margo alight with blue flames in a bathroom stall. 

The police rule it a suicide but ex-cop Nemo believes Trinity when she says that Margo definitely did not commit suicide. The pair then embark on proving this which inadvertently puts them in danger. 

I loved the Native American mythology surrounding this story and the empowerment of women thread. 

This is the first I’ve read of a Graham Masterson but I don’t think it will be the last.
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Interesting story, but I share a lot of the same sentiments as other reviewers—the way the women are written and handled is...ehhhh. It's the same opinion I share with a lot of mainstream horror movies—is it just torture porn? 

Thank you netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC!
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DNF at 41%

I was really intrigued by the premise for this book, and I've been trying to read more widely outside my comfort zone so this felt like the perfect opportunity to try something new while being challenged. Unfortunately, this book did not meet my expectations at all.

I went into this knowing it was a horror, so I was ready to be uncomfortable and even scared by where the story went, and the first couple of chapters were even intriguing. Very soon, however, I was made extremely uncomfortable by the level of misogyny and the graphic scenes of sexual and physical violence. I don't normally have an issue with some problematic content in a book, as long as it's dealt with in a tactful manner and serves a purpose within the story. I didn't get the sense that either of those things happened here, and the level of detail the author provided in these scenes made it impossible for me to keep reading. I pushed myself forward in the hope that it would improve, but it just seemed to keep getting worse, with the plot and dialogue following suit.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity, but this one just wasn't for me.
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It's a book that kept on the edge and it can be really terrifying at times.
It's a bit slow at the beginning, the characters seem a bit flat but then it takes speed and the characters become more rounded and interested.
It's a mix of thriller, folk horror. It's not for fainted of heart and I had a lot of fun.
Recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
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