Susanne Leist does a wonderful job of setting her debut novel The Dead Game, in the sweet seaside town of Oasis, a place where one would never expect evil to lurk. At the beginning of the book we are dropped into a historical piece showcasing the gruesome capabilities of End house, this sets the novel up nicely for our introduction to recent times.
Oasis is a town which should require little by way of regular law enforcement, but it has suffered a disturbing history of disappearances and unexplained phenomena that have been covered up. Interestingly, the sheriff deputy has a habit of sneaking away when there’s work to be done!
The story progresses to tell us a bit about Linda and her perception of the town and its residents. A sense of menace builds quickly and there are surprises to be had when she and her friends accept an invite to a party at End house (unbeknown to them as the locus of the original horrors) A property in which everything defies the natural laws, the friends are subjected to a host of horrors that they try to attribute to mere ghoulish humour on behalf of their host. Vampire, Wolf, sets his eyes on the prize, (Not world peace!) and progressively works his evil machinations against the young people.
In Leist’s town we find that humans, vampires and vampire humans have come to coexist.
This is a book where the characters have more guts than sense! and in true horror fashion I read this book on the edge of my seat, willing and hoping for them to seal their fate by disregarding the warnings and jumping into the crises that could have been avoided. I was not disappointed!
Among the horrors, Leis introduces black magic and hallucinogenic apparitions; the walls bleed and pointy cages drop to trap the partygoers, and many other horrors follow. I loved how Linda and Todd’s romance blossomed through the midst of it, and how Todd’s true nature is hinted at throughout before being revealed. There are many characters in Leist’s horror, and though I could have happily strangled some of them, (Par for the course) I was kept involved in true morbid fascination. I must confess that evil vampire, Wolf was my favourite character in this book, and I was entertained throughout.