A Review of Dead Sky Morning (Experiment in Terror #3) by Karina Halle
Metal Blonde Books, 2011
By REBECCA, July 13, 2012
Happy Friday the 13th, Crunchers and Munchers! Both the fear of Fridays and the fear of the number 13 have been around for a while. Put them together and you get a whole new slew of folks with what is know as friggatriskaidekaphobia (Frigga is the Norse goddess for whom Friday is named) or paraskevidekatriaphobia—that is, fear of Friday the 13th. Apparently one effect of this phobia is the loss of between 8 and 9 million dollars in business on Friday the 13ths. Notable people who died on Friday the 13th include Chet Baker, Tupac Shakur, and Julia Child—now that is the cooking show with a theme song that I want to see! Here’s a bit of horror in honor of the day. Read on, if you dare.
Also, Karina Halle wrote a short story called “The Benson” that is Experiment in Terror # 2.5 that can be read between Red Fox and Dead Sky Morning. You can download “The Benson” for FREE here, although it’s certainly not necessary to understanding Dead Sky Morning.
Perry Palomino: A kick-ass (no, really, she knows martial arts) lady with a lonely heart and a yen for adventure
Dex Foray: Mustachioed ghost hunter and all-around delightfully infuriating enigma
Ada Palomino: Perry’s fashionista little sister with questionable taste in boys
and more creepies that you’ll have to read about . . .
The weekend of her 23rd birthday finds Perry and Dex filming the next episode of “Experiment in Terror” camping on an island off the coast of British Columbia that used to serve as a leper colony. Perry is haunted not only by spirits of lepers past but also by an “anonymous” commenter on the EIT website who seems to hate her. Dex . . . well, it turns out that Dex has his own problems, and they’re spelled J-E-N-N.
As I mentioned in my reviews of Darkhouse and Red Fox, I began the Experiment in Terror series attempting to guard against freaking myself out by only reading them during the daylight hours. While that worked for Darkhouse, by the time I was halfway through Red Fox I knew I’d be reading once the sun had set. By the time I got to Dead Sky Morning, I was reading it in the middle of a freaking thunderstorm (that was back in the Spring, before the East Coast turned into a tropical wasteland) at 3am because IT’S SO GOOD I COULDN’T STOP!
Dead Sky Morning is the darkest of the three books so far and, as you know if you read the first two, that’s really saying something. For one thing, Perry has admitted her feelings for Dex to herself. That means that she (and the reader!) is able to absolutely marinate in the feelings of simultaneous attraction (love) and repulsion (he has a girlfriend and still flirts with Perry) that Perry feels for Dex. So, already the backdrop for the supernatural part of the book is a little tortured. On top of that, the majority of Dead Sky Morning takes place on D’Arcy Island, so Perry and Dex are totally alone, upping the sexual tension/torture factor astronomically.
At the turn of the century on D’Arcy Island, Chinese lepers were contained and then abandoned by the government (no surprise there), which dropped off supplies (and coffins) every now and again, but finally allowed some 50 people to die and then tried to cover it up. Needless to say, that’s a lot of potential creepyness for Perry and Dex to mine for the next episode of “Experiment in Terror.” However, when their boat is sabotaged, stranding them alone on the island, Perry and Dex get a lot more than they bargained for.
what were this book’s intentions? did it live up to them?
Holy rotting corpses, Batman, Dead Sky Morning is amazing. Intention #1: to write a super scary book. Success! Intention #2: to make me fall more in love with Perry and Dex than ever before. Success! Intention #3: to up the stakes in their relationship to the point where I wanted to rip my own face off because I couldn’t immediately start the sequel. Success! Well played, Ms. Halle. Well played.
So, firstly, I think the plot in Dead Sky Morning is the most interesting so far. The true story of the abandoned lepers, the lack of available info on the history of the island, and the revelation of what went on there are all captivating. Halle also does an amazing job slowly and subtly building the creepfest atmosphere of the island itself, not to mention it’s, er, otherworldly inhabitants.
“Now that D’Arcy Island was close enough to make out the little details, the nausea I was feeling down below was starting to creep up my throat again.
It looked like any other island that you’d see in the Pacific Northwest. But the strange part was, you knew it wasn’t. Even if no one had told me what had gone on there, the feeling of dread that washed over me, the animosity that just reeked out of the island’s pores, was unmistakable.
. . . From what I could see it didn’t look like much was out there. We were close to the island but not close enough to be hitting any rocks. But the water was rippling like a few opposing currents were working the surface.
. . . We were pretty much in the slight cove and the shore wasn’t too far away. I could make out the individual branches of the fir trees, the glowing green of the ferns nestled at the bottom sparkling in golden rays of sunlight, the smooth shapes of the rocks that made up the shoreline. Seagulls darted to and fro and with the sound of the motor at a minimum, I could hear the waves rolling the rocks in a rhythmic manner. It seemed so peaceful, so idyllic but . . .
Someone was watching us” (114-116).
Alongside the battle to film material for the show and also not die, Perry and Dex slowly come apart at the seams. Perry starts acting like she’s wearing the ring of doom around her neck (nerd alert), picking fights with Dex and generally being bloody, and Dex, for all his promises to keep Perry safe, is acting as if he thinks maybe it’s Perry who’s crazy. Seriously, the stakes are really raised here, and Perry and Dex’s relationship is put to many a test.
So, after wanting to punch myself in the face after reading books 1 and 2 in the series because I didn’t plan ahead and therefore had to wait to read the next installment, I went ahead and ordered the 4th Experiment in Terror book, Lying Season, right when I started Dead Sky Morning so that it would arrive in a few days, just in time for me to take it on vacation. This was both so that I could read it immediately, and also because I wanted to capitalize on sharing a room with my mom, thus lessening the fear factor. But, but, but, Amazon totally screwed me and delayed shipping Lying Season until I’d already left on vacation, depriving me of a desperately needed sequel and leaving me totally high and dry on the book front when I unexpectedly finished my plane book on the first day of the trip. This led to me wandering the streets of Charleston begging people to help me find a bookstore. Anyway, it was bad news, even though I eventually found a bookstore, read Emma Bull’s wonderful War For the Oaks (you can read my review here), and got to have Lying Season waiting for me when I got home. But still, it was stressful. The point is: do yourself a favor and learn from my mistakes.
The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan (2009). First of all, such a totally awesome title. Mary lives in a fenced-in clearing in the forest where she and the other townspeople keep watch for when The Unconsecrated come. If they break the skin, you’re infected and become one of them—the only way to keep safe, the Sisterhood insists, is constant vigilance. But when The Unconsecrated breach the walls, Mary learns that their little clearing isn’t the last stronghold on earth; there is a world beyond these trees . . . if she can only reach it.
The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith (2010). When California teenager Jack dons the strange glasses given to him by a stranger in a London pub, he is transported to Marbury, a war-torn land where he must fight for his life and the lives of his friends. Love, love, love—my review is here.
Locke and Key, volume 1: Welcome to Lovecraft by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez (2008). This graphic novel tells the story of Keyhouse, a New England mansion (on Lovecraft Island, in case you weren’t sure horrible things were going to happen) where doors open into different worlds. After the Locke family patriarch is brutally murdered, his bereft family returns to his childhood home and begins to delve into its mysteries. Gorgeous color!
procured from: bought