Reviews – Between Life and Death » PenTwist

Reviews – Between Life and Death

ReviewScout.com Review:

Highly Imaginative Thriller (Rating 5 of 5)

Between Life and Death is a trip through the supernatural looking glass, with a sip of southern comfort.
Set in the year 1977, just prior to the cell phone, computer, and Ipod generation, this story gives you a feel of what it was like back when life events were more thought out and surreal.

The main character, seventeen-year-old James Earl Williams, has had more than his share of difficulties and has almost smoothed out those wrinkles prior to visiting his grandparents in Mississippi.
His family offers him a genuine feeling of support and close-knit emotional connection, but the reluctance of youth prevents him from exposing the building terror that is chewing into his mind.
Just when events begin to get their strangest, he is thrust into the confusing arms of his first feelings of love with Jolie. Her persona is an irresistible young Cajun girl with a charming Aunt as her support.
Underlying currents from the past begin to surface through James’ dreams and by now the seat to the story’s roller-coaster will have locked you into its grip.
Authentic characters pull you along smoothly into the story line and when you think you know what to expect, will take you completely by surprise. Spiritual Hoodoo and superstitions abound within the realm of the Mississippi River locations.
Raised in the south, I could almost see each character, feel the sticky humidity, and cringe to their reactions. Their dealings with spiritual torments, which though subtle, tend to make them just a little too realistic at times.

The imaginative plot offers completely unexpected twists and turns into the concept of spirit activity as well as a look at the neighbor next door.
This novel brought back memories of the inner struggles of youth, with its needs and desires as well as the preconceived illusions of finding adulthood.
Historical references to the Mississippi delta are mostly convincing and the vivid descriptions easily take you into the creepy world of what might be making that sound in your closet or behind the door.
Being a late night reader further exploited my feeling of being observed by something over the shoulder, which actually enhanced the enjoyment of this page-turner.

The imagination of the author will owe us at least one continuation into the lives of the main characters James and his sweetheart Jolie.

A fresh twist of Thriller fiction.
Highly Recommended for the Horror Fiction Fan.

Goodreads.com Reader Review:

Jamie A. rated it: 5 of 5 stars
Read in August, 2009
Finally finished this one. It turned out to not be what I was expecting, but in a good way. I didn’t see any of that coming, and I had to deal with the odd coincidence that every time I decided to read a few chapters, a thunderstorm decided to stroll through town. At one point I had to stop reading–because I was getting a little too creeped out by the combination.

As a Southerner, most of the characters came off as pretty authentic. I could go a few counties over and find some people fitting the description of a number of characters. I also loved the way the landscape was described. It was so clear in my mind as I read it.

I wish that Jolie and Bebe had gotten a little more development, but that may be because I liked them too much. I was quite taken by Sam and Catherine too, despite them coming in rather late in the story.

And now I hear another thunderstorm coming…okay, that’s just creepy.

I really enjoyed the book though. I’d been wanting to pick up some good horror/suspense fiction for a while, and this definitely satisfied that urge. Looking forward to any books this author puts out in the future. There’s definitely some potential here.


Reviewed by Sharon Cupp Pennington,
author of Hoodoo Money and Mangroves and Monsters

David Pyle’s southern roots and love of Mississippi shine in his debut novel, Between Life and Death (Publish America, 2009, ISBN 1-60836-244-2). As a rule, horror novels are not for the faint of heart, and Pyle doesn’t disappoint with his rich characterizations, colloquial speak, and imaginative storytelling.

Between Life and Death-

opens with Pyle’s protagonist, James Earl Williams, on an annual pilgrimage to his maternal grandparents’ home in Natchez, Mississippi. James has journeyed south from New Jersey many times in the past and spent satisfying hours at work in his grandfather’s garage repairing cars for local residents and restoring his treasured ‘67 Mustang.  But this will prove a summer of upheaval for the seventeen-year-old in which he finds himself embroiled in grave-robbing, murder, kidnapping, and a shocking digression into the sinister sway of backwoods voodoo. James’ quandary begins with a mysterious clicking sound emanating from inside the walls of his grandparents’ house. The nocturnal nuisance spurs bouts of insomnia, nightmares of suffocation in oily seas, and midnight investigating only to find no source for the noise. It isnt until his Aunt Martiel reveals a family history of paranormal sight that young James opens his mind and will to the treachery that lies ahead. All he holds dear, his newfound love for sweet Jolie, and his faith are questioned as James faces the unspeakable conjured by Miss Lyda Brown, a merciless bokor, a voodoo sorceress capable of capturing souls and raising the undead.

How does a teenager wage war against a being so ancient and evil as Lyda Brown and her minions, Toad and Billy? What dormant skills must James hone to emerge victorious and save his family? What long-hidden secret will he discover?

All novels possess strengths and weaknesses. The strengths of Between Life and Death fall in the realm of clever suspense and layers of backbone-tingling horror. This novel’s primary weakness, unfortunately, stems from a lack of quality editing — and a publisher who, in my humble opinion, seems satisfied that the disclaimer “Publish America has allowed this work to remain exactly as the author intended, verbatim, without editorial input” releases them from the guarantee that a novel goes to readers at its utmost best. What a shame.

I base my estimate of a novel’s worth on whether it holds my interest, if I leave a night’s read and find myself still speculating about what might happen. If I’m drawn to the characters. Between Life and Death accomplished all of this.

David Pyle comes from an extended career in manufacturing and technology. He lives in North Texas with his son and daughter, and is presently working on a sequel. Between Life and Death is available through PublishAmerica, Amazon and other fine booksellers.

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