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The Soul Stealer

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Member Reviews

After reading two of Graham Masterons books this year I have decided that he is not for me.

Its a shame as I really like horror novels and with both books the spiel sounded right up my street.

The spiel here loosely involves native American folklore and spirits(how much is based on actual beliefs I do not know and wasnt inclined to look into) the Hollywood elite and the usual sacrifices, torture and a bit of cannibalism thrown in for good measure!

The problem I have is with the writing. Its like a teenage boy wrote the prose at times. I did wonder was it supposed t be comically bad but I dont think it was deliberate.

The writing of the female characters was appalling. "Damsels in distress" that needed saving by men seemed to be the blue print for them. Plus they made some ludicrous decisions and nearly seemed to just brush off the sexual violence towards them. It was utterly bizarre.

The books too long for what it is. A wafer thin story to work with that just stretches out way too far.

As I said, I dont think Masterton is for me. Some of his writing in both books I found offensive, just not in the way that would be expected.

Thanks to the publisher for the ARC through Netgalley.
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Thank you to Head of Zeus and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review Graham Masterton's The Soul Stealer.

The sum of the parts of this book is not as strong as the individual parts, if that makes sense. 

Some of the characters are great - Nemo, for instance - the use of Native American myth and legend as well as giving a strong voice to Native American land rights, some of the horror set pieces, and some other bits and pieces were strong but they added up to a somewhat disappointing whole for me.

For me it was the liberal use of violence against and violation of so many women in the book that just overwhelmed everything else. The one scene of gratuitous violence against Rod (himself an unpleasant and misogynistic character) and the comeuppance the male characters in general get does nothing to balance out the unpleasantness of what comes before for the women in the book.

The welcome exposure of the violation of Native Americans and, for me, an education about the indigenous people of the Californian region were overshadowed by the use of the wise old Indian trope. Also, the ease of which the characters were taught shapeshifting/mesmerism and the ability to kill using just three words and a finger gesture was kinda laughable.

I've been reading Graham Masterton for decades and it felt odd for a Graham Masterton book to be based smack in the present day with mentions of Covid sprinkled throughout but he seems to have either missed the Me Too reckoning in Hollywood or mistakenly thought that the denouement for the sleazy male characters was the antidote to it.

All-in-all, a disappointment.
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The Soul Stealer by Graham Masterton 
I give this book 4 stars 

Nemo Frisby used to be a detective,when his housecleaner Trinity Fox discovers a young woman lying dead in her neighborhood, she persuades him to help her prove it wasn't suicide.
Their investigation leads them to the Bel Air home of a wealthy movie producer, who built his mansion over an American Indian burial site. Ancient mythology tells of a demon who, if unearthed, can imbue evil men with terrible power. But only if the demon is fed by the sacrifice of innocent lives...

This book totally gave me the creeps but l was engrossed in the premise of ancient mythology.It’s definitely a horror not for the faint hearted. The pace got faster as the plot grew more intense and terrifying. The author fills the pages with atmosphere and graphic detail which draws you in and horrifies the life out of you .l was praying for Trinity and Nemo to get to  Zuzana in time to save her. 
With thanks to Netgalley, Graham Masterton and Head of Zeus,an Aries Book for my chance to read and review this book.
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An exhilarating experience as ever with Graham’s books. A stunning mixture of high paced thriller, excruciating gore and more than a dash of the mystic and magic. In this case the magic comes in the, fascinating, form of ancient American Indian folk lore and shaman magic. This is both beautiful and terrifying in equal measures and gives a great depth and respect.
Add to this mix a touch of the power of wealth and male Hollywood directors and the elements of the story are all lined up.
Our main characters include a former detective, who has been removed from the force and a woman who refuses to believe that her friend took her own life and they join up to discover the secrets and cover ups of what really happened. I read this over two days and was compelled to finish it. As ever I was wowed by Graham’s imagination and originality and found his distinct way of storytelling spot on. Very enjoyable but I imagine I’m going to have nightmares! Thank you very much nonetheless.
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The concept & story line caught my attention right away. I’ve been meaning to get more into folk horror so I was really excited about for this to be the first novel for me to do that. Unfortunately, I did not enjoy it nearly as much as I thought I would.

This book starts out painfully slowly. I feel like there was a lot of information used more for filler than for the story itself & it didn’t even provide build up. The antagonists are obvious from the beginning & instead of strategic planning  they just use a lot of misogyny to get what they want. I really wasn’t a big fan of the way the author portrayed women. 

Now I will say that I did enjoy the folk elements behind this story but it came across more as a murder mystery to me in the end verses a horror novel which was disappointing since the synopsis talks about demons.

I’m sure some people would like this book but it just wasn’t for me. I’ve heard the author has written other really great novels & series so I’d be willing to check those out because I did enjoy his writing style but this book in particular just wasn’t for me.
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I love this author but this book Why???
Based on rape, abuse and the demeaning of women in order to have a better life is not my idea of a good read. Luckily it was not graphic. I thought that with this author going back to his roots of Native Indian folklore it would be good. I felt like I needed a bath after reading this book. I will not be posting this review on any platforms. 
Many thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC in return for giving an honest review.
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Graham at his best, great story great characters, back to Native American folklore could not put it down
I received this book from Head of Zeus and Netgalley for a review
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Wow. What a rollercoater of a read. It had me gripped from the start.. I look forward to reading more by Graham.
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A murder mystery, physiological suspense, thriller with a healthy dosing of native Indian lore and magic of the ancients.
A great story line with two unforgettable characters that you can’t help becoming invested in!
I throughly recommend it and not to just horror fans, this book offers a lot more than that.
It took me two sittings to finish it but that’s only because I fell asleep whilst reading 😹
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Trinity Fox finds an old friend dead that she has seen in a while. The Police say it is suicide, but Trinity knows that her friend wouldn’t kill herself especially set fire to herself. She had everything to live for. She just got a part in a popular TV show, she was finally going places. So, with the help of Nemo Frisby who used to be a Police detective but now an Uber driver. But he didn’t lose the instinct of cracking a case. The pair go out to find the truth of her friends’ death.
Her death leads them to Bel Air with connects with a movie producer who has a mansion built over an America Indian burial site and links to demon. 
Thank you head of Zeus for a copy of The Soul Stealer. I really enjoyed Graham Masterton’s three previous novels. So, I was really looking forward to reading his latest one. This novel was an okay read but not the cringeworthy, heart stopping novel that he usually writes. I found this to be more of a murder mystery than horror. Regarding the women characters in this book and what happened to them. I found it to be rather sleazy. But I know in the real world that these things happen. All in all, a good premise by the author, But I didn’t think it was one of his best sorry. 3.5 stars from me.
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I have such mixed feelings about this book. 

First, I’ve got to say Masterson is adept at character voice. You can feel the subtle differences in word choice and even sentence structure; in how some characters are written about with finesse and others with grit. Regardless, all of his characters are very real, very human. There are no saints here.

That said, there was no thrill or build up for me in this book. You know who the ‘bad guys’ are pretty much from the start, and you can see the basic route that will follow. There’s no strategy from the villains – it’s just misogyny (hidden under false praise of ‘female power’) and abuse (written off as ‘this is just how it is, in Hollywood’). As a woman, I felt like the #metoo movement was just being used as a plot device and as an excuse for murder and sexual assault. The best I can say is that the abuse wasn’t too graphic or romanticized.

The book does show highlight issues of sexual & physical assault, racism and privilege of the white male wealthy elite. They don’t see people as people; they never plan to keep their promises. What troubles me the most is that none of the bad guys are ever punished for their actions. Most of them get away with it. The head honcho himself merely gets a quick death meted out, but none of the pain and suffering he inflicted on others is reflected back onto him.

There’s a quote that struck me partway through the book: “Out of the worst situations that you can think of… incredibly wonderful things can get born. All it takes is a little love.” At the time, I hoped that quote was foreshadowing something good to come out of all the dark gore. Instead it was more ‘Out of the worst situations, you can suffer and die, or survive into an unchanged world and realize that any power you may have can’t change the injustices continuing around you.’ And maybe that’s a realistic take on the world we’re suffering through today. Maybe the privileged just get to go unpunished – and the best we can hope for is to occasionally see the herd of abusers thinned out by a percent or two. 

 (I received a free copy of this through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review)
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Gruesome Hollywood horror which forgets the ‘Me Too’ movement

In recent years Scottish horror legend has been on a fine run of form with The House of a Hundred Whispers (2020) and the supernatural crime trilogy which stars London detectives Jerry Pardoe and Jamila Patel, opening with Ghost Virus (2018). Whilst most authors who have been in the horror game since the mid-1970s might be thinking of slowing down and pulling out the pipe, slippers and whiskey bottle, Masterton remains as prolific as ever releasing two books in 2022, The Soul Stealer and next October The House at Phantom Park. After so many years writing horror I am constantly amazed he can dream up such outlandish plots, and although his latest is unlikely to be rated alongside his best work it was a very easy to read page-turner aimed at those who enjoy trashy horror. I sped through this romp over a couple of easy reading days, eating up the near 400-pages with little lull in the ridiculous, often sleazy, action.

Masterton’s longevity comes from the fact that he has the ability to both dish out crazy plots and seamlessly move between the various subgenres, ranging from haunted houses, body horror, police procedurals and everything else in between. The Soul Stealer finds the great Scotsman in solid b-movie territory and if this was published in the eighties, an era it harks back to, trash horror film merchants such as Fred Olen Ray would have been queueing up to direct it, with his famous Scream Queen actresses taking centre stage and bearing the flesh.

The action opens with main character Trinity Fox (sounds like a porn star name!) receiving a phone call from an old school friend whom she has not seen in a while, then plans to meet her. Trinity’s home circumstances is also pretty tough, after the recent death of her mother she has to look after her two younger siblings, whilst holding down a cleaning job, meantime their father disappears into the bottle. After arriving at the bar where she has arranged to meet Margo, realising her friend is in the restroom follows her in, only to find her alight in flames and burning to death. When the police arrive, she is told it was a probable suicide and although she finds this unlikely takes the LAPD for their word.

Shortly after the incident Trinity meets part-time private investigator Nemo Frisby, another main character, who also suspects foul play and the pair double up to continue their investigation, even though they are warned off by other shifty characters. Trinity and Nemo (she is half his age) make a very entertaining buddy act which takes them to the super rich of Hollywood (the story is set in LA) whilst her personal family problems are never too far in the background, with both her siblings Rosa and Buddy also appearing in some of the subplots.

It was just as well Trinity and Nemo made a fun detective duo as plenty of the other characters in The Soul Stealer are sheer filth and will have you wanting to have a bath to wash their stench from your skin. Although it is my no means Masterton’s most violent book, some scenes are very strong featuring tongues being cut out, children being burned alive and one guy being forced to eat his own testicles immediately after removal. The sexual violence is also unpleasant and rather gloating, featuring date rape and worse, including a woman being raped by a scorpion monster demon. If this type of horror is not your thing, then stay well aware from The Soul Stealer which is built around fast pace and shocking over-the-top set pieces rather than scares or tension. 

If this novel is anything to go by then the ‘Me Too’ movement in America, in which Hollywood was the king of sleaze, either never happened or was totally ignored by the men in the seat of power. Putting a supernatural and very sleazy spin on the infamous ‘casting couch’ scenario will not be everybody’s cut of tea and some readers may feel it makes light of serious topics regarding women’s self-empowerment. However, in the end of the day this is exploitation horror and if you are after something more serious then look elsewhere, especially if you are of a sensitive disposition as the violence is hard-hitting and particularly unrelenting on women.

You will have to suspend your disbelief for large parts of the story, which is built around Native American mythology (a tribe from the California area). I am not sure whether any of this was based on fact (I think the tribe ‘Tongva’ was real) and I wonder how living descendants of the tribe will take Masterton’s portrayal of them in this story. However, you could argue they are just as exploited in this novel as their race was in actual history. The second Native American story strand was totally bizarre, the ability to make others think you are somebody else (a bit like Clint Eastwood for example!) and was put to cool use by the highly unorthodox investigative duo. 

Although I raced through The Soul Stealer I could not help feeling that some of the plot was a mere excuse to link together very gory scenes and some of the most explicit sequences failed to have the impact something built around atmosphere might have had. Although the characters were sketchily drawn and could have done with more detail hardcore fans of Masterton should still lap up this latest release. However, if you have never tried him before he has much stronger novels than this to get you started in his vast and impressive back catalogue.
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The Soul Stealer Kindle Edition

by Graham Masterton

Thank you to Graham Masterton, the publisher and NetGalley for the complimentary reviewer's copy. I am choosing to leave a fair and honest review.

Graham Masterton is often referred to as the British Stephen King, which raises expectations for all his novels. With that in mind, had this book been written by any other author, it would definitely be a five star, unputdownable book.  

Masterton returns to the world of Native American folklore, a place that birthed his The Manitou novel. The Manitou is a must read in the horror cannon. This time, he uses the folk lore to skewer Hollywood, the US and the patriarchy in this slow burn thriller.

Trinity's sister disappears with her best friend Sally, driving Trinity to team up with Nemo, a former police detective. 

There are problems with this book, ones that should not have come from such a talented and seasoned writer.

Masterton literally uses the 'Indian Burial Ground' trope. Then there is the dialogue. This novel takes place in Los Angeles, California, yet at times the characters sound as if they were in a London pub. This is a bit jarring. It took me out of the story as I had to pause and parse out what it would be in American. Masterton also uses the “Nobel Savage” trope and Trinity could easily be called a Mary Sue, who, inexplicably can use Native American magic. The pay off for the story comes so, so very late in the book, my eyes began to glaze.

I appreciate his attempt at a Jordan Peele like story, but where Peele and James Wan have one issue they take on, providing a clear path for the reader, Masterton had too many to concentrate on. 

But the scares are good. The pay off is awesome.

Had this been anyone else's book, it would be a definite hit, but I expect more from you, Graham!

4 stars out of 5

*** This book releases on March 3, 2022
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Graham Masterton is a master of horror. Unfortunately that is behind him now. I'm not exactly sure what genre I would call this because it doesn't really pick a path and stays with it.
Hopefully I didn't have too high expectations, but it's Graham Masterton, so it has to be good.
Feels like it's missing a lot. It has too many one-dimensional characters and a very thin plot.
Oh well, can't win them all.
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It was OK. That's about all I can say really. I hated the way woman were portrayed in this book but I liked the folk elements. I just wanted so much more.
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I love this author and tend to favor this genre over others. However, I had a tough time with this book and was unable to finish. I hope to read other books and pick this one back up at a later time.
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Thank you to NetGalley and Head of Zeus – An Aries Book for forwarding to me a copy of this to read.

I’ve been watching horror movies since I was a kid so I’m pretty desensitized to horror and gore but even I found this to be a bit much. The gore and brutality felt unnecessary and overdone. I also felt it was a bit misogynistic and didn’t enjoy the way women were portrayed. It felt longer than necessary.

I would not recommend.
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Thank you Netgalley for tis ARC for an exchange for an honest review.

Wonderful book. I am impressed with the story and decisions of the author!
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This book is reddit’s r/menwritingwomen come to life and set loose on unsuspecting townsfolk. I found the synopsis to be misleading and the writing and dialogue to be stilted, uncomfortable, and just…not good. 

I prefer horror that steadily and insidiously sinks its teeth into you until you’re completely immersed in the fictional world that’s being built around you, but what I got were gratuitous scenes of sexual violence, torture, and gore written into an otherwise snooze-worthy plot. 

(I cannot emphasize how gratuitous these scenes were)

The only things insidious about this book were the blatant misogyny playing dress-up as women’s empowerment and the weird disrespect towards indigenous culture. I only finished reading this book was because it was an ARC I received from the publisher.
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NB Might contain spoilers! 

The premise of “The Soul Stealer” opens with our protagonist Trinity being called up by Margot, an old school friend. She needs to see Trinity urgently. Unfortunately by the time Trinity reaches her, Margot has died. In true Masterton style Margot’s death is explicit and painful; burnt to death in the toilet of the bar she was due to meet Trinity in.

When Margot’s death is classed as a suicide, Trinity teams up with ex cop Nemo to investigate further. You just know that things are going to get hairy from here on in. Their investigation takes them into the glamour of the movie industry and an unsettling dark side where the allure of fame will always draw in victims and sacrifices must be made to achieve success.

Trinity and Nemo’s investigation runs alongside the tragic tale of Zuzana, a beautiful wannabe actress lured in by false promises. Through her we are given insight into what Margot was afraid of. And some of what happens is truly the stuff of nightmares. Not that I would expect anything less from the Master of Horror!

Alongside the graphic details I associate most with Masterton, is the American Indian folklore, the use of magic to trick and trance and people who shouldn’t exist in our world and yet do. Who in this case come in the form of Weywot and Ghost Woman. Both gave me a jump for different reasons.

With Weywot’s tale, some details reminded me of the film “Midsommer”. So if you liked that film, you’ll like this. This novel will also remind Masterton fans of “The Manitou” though with the film industry theme, “The Soul Stealer” reminds me of my personal favourite “Mirror”. I like the way he slides in musical references throughout too – I recognised all of them (just to give a flavour, there are nods to REM and ZZTop).

This novel has everything I expect from Masterton and I raced to finish it. Highly recommended for all horror fans! I received this advance copy courtesy of NetGalley but I have placed a preorder already for my collection. 

Published on 3rd March 2022 by Head of Zeus
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