with dreams of red sunsets.
Clouds drifting on cotton balls,
encircling me with their softness.
Let the moon’s face shine on me,
making me feel safe and secure.
The stars twinkle in merriment,
ready to tackle the night.
The day brings a new enemy
to our peaceful shore.
A dark kingdom will rise up,
a new kingdom for The Dead.
his gait slow and sure.
He slowly pulls back his hood
to reveal the creature beneath.
“You have waited for me, dear one.
I will have my ice princess at my side.”
Wolf quickens his stride to reach me,
I peek through my eyelashes
At his beautiful face.
He abruptly turns around
To summon his army.
fall in battle like the others.
Goodbye, my ice princess.”
THE DEAD GAME
A house so dark and bleak
That I can’t even speak.
Dark shadows glare at me
Where clear windows should be.
Do I dare venture inside?
I’ll have to swallow my pride.
And quietly cross the threshold
Without being so rash and bold.
There’s a secret party inside.
I wonder if I should run or hide.
Who’s the host of this feast,
Man or dangerous beast?
THE DEAD GAME
EXCERPT FROM THE DEAD GAME
Todd and Sam were apprehensive about visiting Hayden in his own home. But they were running out of choices.
Todd was hoping that Hayden was still around and hadn’t sneaked off into the night as he drove past the thick bushes and massive trees that outlined Hayden’s remote plot of land. He wasn’t too eager to face Hayden on his home turf. He glanced across at Sam, who seemed to be having his own doubts—judging by the amount of squirming he was doing in his seat. They drove up to the house that stood silently waiting for them.
A warm wind was rustling through the leaves of the tall trees that shrouded the bleak house. Low-hanging limbs swiped at their legs with their long, skinny fingers as they walked up the gravel path. The wind blew leaves in circles around their feet, trying to slow their ascent up the steep stairs. They crunched through the fallen leaves to reach the front door.
Todd couldn’t locate a bell, so he rapped loudly with his knuckles. There was no answer. The door began to drift open on its own. A long, dark hallway gradually came into view. Rare masterpieces lined both walls, starkly illuminated against the muted walls by bright spotlights suspended from high above.
The deafening silence felt alive and heavy—as if someone was there with them waiting, but not yet willing to reveal himself. A cold draft hit them. In the translucent stream of air, Todd could see shadowy forms fighting against each other, struggling to break free. “Are those vampires caught in the wind?” asked Todd, beginning to regret his decision to enter the house without sufficient back-up. “Did you notice those strange forms floating in the air?”
He continued, “I’ve never seen anything like that before.” Not hearing a response from Sam, he tried to downplay his concern a little. “It could have been just an elaborate illusion.”
When Sam still didn’t respond, Todd turned around and found him standing as still as a statue, eyeing the flow of air with fear in his eyes. “Sam? Are you still with me?” Sam didn’t answer or move a muscle.
Todd knew that he had to continue on with the search—with or without Sam. He called out Hayden’s name, his voice echoing down the empty corridor. Still no one answered.
He followed the faintly lit hallway until its end, where it opened onto a huge oval-shaped ballroom. He stood in the center of the room in the bright light cast by the enormous crystal chandelier. The light reflecting from the hanging crystals shot colorful prisms of light across the multitude of artwork all around him. Hundreds of statues by eminent artists were haphazardly scattered about the shiny marble floor; the walls were decorated with priceless paintings in massive frames.
He wandered through the ballroom and recognized Rembrandts, Picassos, and even Renoirs, filling every available space on the gilded walls. At the back of the room, he noticed a circular staircase with elaborate gold railings, leading up through the ceiling to the floor above.
“There are no other rooms on the main floor, so we might as well check upstairs.” Surprised to hear Sam’s voice, Todd spun around to find him standing right behind him. Todd slowly nodded his head in agreement, even though he suspected that this was what Hayden expected them to do next. It was almost if Hayden had put out a sign that read: “Stupid human vampires! Come up my staircase at your own risk!”
As soon as they began to climb the stairs, the air turned colder and more frigid.
Now, let the games begin.
A DOOR OPENS IN OASIS
A door opens in Oasis that can lead
to anywhere that you might imagine.
It needs a gatekeeper to ensure
your safe return.
The residents of the quaint fishing
village have kept this door guarded
and a dark secret for many years.
Be careful what you dream,
for reality might not match
your dreams or your wildest expectations.
The staircase abruptly fell through the ground
and opened a tunnel below End House.
The guests were thrown down the stairs.
Linda lost her grip and began to free-fall
Creatures with long sharp fingers were
trying to grab her.
Their white elongated faces had their
mouths wide open in silent cries.
Linda kept falling until Todd yelled out,”Stop!”
The creatures magically disappeared and the
tunnel transformed back into a staircase.
Linda was now certain that Todd was hiding
secrets and his powers from her.
She wouldn’t be able to trust him ever again.
The Dead Game by Susanne Leist
THIS REVIEWER UNDERSTOOD WHAT I WAS GOING FOR IN MY BOOK.
5.0 out of 5 stars You are invited to an evening of intrigue…, May 29, 2014
Jim Goforth – See all my reviews
This review is from: The Dead Game (Kindle Edition)
Some books take an eternity to get things kick-started, using slow burn tactics to ramp up suspense or develop story lines, some almost to the point where you almost feel like giving up on them with the thought the ultimate payoff is never going to culminate.
Susanne Leist’s debut opus ‘The Dead Game’ is not one of those books.
From the very moment it gets underway, starting off with a sinister, tempestuous and enthralling prologue section which takes place five years prior to the main story, it launches directly into chills and thrills and lays out a wonderfully dark and engaging foundation on which to build all ensuing events.
After these cataclysmic events in the residence known as End House in the seemingly idyllic Florida town of Oasis, the story now begins in earnest from present day revolving around chief character Linda Barnett who has relocated to this very town in a bid to discover a simple, peaceful existence.
For a while, that is exactly what she finds in this apparently ideally named township, but that is all going to change and soon enough it does, with Oasis becoming plagued by a host of strange and mysterious occurrences, deaths that occur once the sun goes down.
The mysterious invitations to a party hosted by unknown persons, received by Linda and her bunch of compatriots are the spurring agent to initiate events where the worried townsfolk embark on a nightmarish expedition to uncover the dark secrets lurking behind the perfect innocuous facade of oasis.
Leist is a great natural storyteller and she exhibits her skills here, weaving a cornucopia of elements into the fabric of the tale, developing a cast of intriguing characters who engage the reader and draw them into their various stories and agendas.
This is a supernatural thriller, predominantly involving things of a vampire nature, but it is far from your standard generic vampire by the numbers piece, it is skilfully crafted to involve romantic overtures along with lashings of action and loads of building suspense, as well as some atmospheric horror, all neatly balanced without sacrificing any of the components.
Rolling along with a suitable undercurrent of menace and portentous threat, The Dead Game keeps things interesting with a host of plot shifts and moments to maintain a strong desire to continue reading and become absorbed in the frightening secrets engulfing those who dwell in Oasis.
For the most part, the characters are extremely well fleshed out, in particular those in main roles such as pivotal soul Linda herself as well as the mysterious and wealthy Todd, the vivacious Shana Logan and the others in the core group of friends, and the author ensures we care about what happens to these folk, though having the knowledge that not all is right at End House means we’re helpless to warn them against having anything to do with it.
Susanne Leist has constructed a thoroughly engrossing debut novel here and those who enjoy atmospheric supernatural thrillers with a taut and deftly written story will find plenty to captivate them here.
Linda was pulled into the deserted garden to face Wolf and his side-kick Hayden.
However, Wolf didn’t seem the least bit focused on her, but troubled over something different. “I didn’t come here to play parlor games with you. I need you to convince Todd to join with us. He can never be human or accepted by them. He belongs with us! It makes more sense for him to stick with his own kind.”
“He’s not like you in any way at all: he cares too deeply for people and is loyal to his friends. On the other hand, you and your kind enjoy killing too much and have no feelings whatsoever.”
“Todd will never be accepted by humans or by his own kind! He will be an outcast with nowhere to go!” screamed Wolf.
“Todd is human and will always be accepted by humans.”
“Let’s kill her now, boss. She’s going to be trouble; I could take her away and no one will ever see her again,” urged Hayden.
Oops, she did it again: her big mouth had now sealed her fate.
Wolf strolled over to her with a wicked gleam surfacing in his eyes. “I have a much better use for her in the future. When she finally comes to her senses, she’ll realize that she will be better off with a real vampire with limitless powers than with a pathetic human. She’ll learn about intoxicating love and passion—not the games that humans play that pale in comparison. Here comes the human. Let her go for now.”
Linda was horrified to find herself wrapped in Wolf’s strong, muscular arms. She became hypnotized by his black eyes and tempted by his deep voice. He seemed perfect in every way. Suddenly, she only wanted to be with him.
“I’ll be back for you,” promised Wolf as he held her tight against him, whispering dangerously in her ear. ”I love the way you stand up to me with your flashing blue eyes. Soon you’ll be mine, my beautiful ice queen.”
Linda couldn’t move; she was stuck in some kind of trance…she couldn’t leave or even want to leave if given the choice. His voice soothed her and made her think of love, passion, and great need: a need that could only be met by Wolf with his expert hands and mouth. She knew that one day she was going to be with him, to be joined with him.
His mouth lowered onto hers, drawing her into a swirling miasma of unexpected feelings and desires. His mouth fully covering hers introduced her to a new realm of pure pleasure. His powerful form enveloped her, making her feel feelings that were foreign and untried for her. She couldn’t get enough of him. She tentatively began touching his face and then his body with an eager and unrelenting hunger.
She didn’t know what she needed, but she knew that she wanted and desired this beautiful man standing right before her. Her past life was washed out of her mind, never to be considered again. She begged him to take her with him tonight. In response, Wolf lifted her in his arms—as if she weighed nothing—and turned to leave the party. His beautiful face looked victorious and happy. His black eyes filled with passion. She hoped that it was because of her. Then he looked down into her small face and gave a hearty roar.
While Wolf carried her in his powerful arms, a dark shadow swooped out of the house and flew directly at them. Linda was knocked out of his strong grasp, while Wolf was thrown across the patio.
She looked up to see who had attacked them. It was Todd, his eyes a deadly shade of green, standing there panting. Linda backed away in horror. His eyes clearing, Todd looked beseechingly at her. “Don’t ever be afraid of me! I’m here to protect you!”
Then he was struck down by Wolf.
They began circling each other like two wild animals. Todd thrust his whole body at Wolf, causing Wolf to lose his balance as they crashed together to the ground. Wolf violently pushed Todd aside and swiftly stood back up. He lunged at Todd, who neatly sidestepped his maneuver. Todd quickly retaliated by lifting him high up in the air and flinging him through one of the glass doors to the house. Wolf rose up, dusting glass off his clothing; bewildered that Todd had somehow bested him.
He warned Todd, who stood before him, “We are not anywhere near finished, my dear friend. The next battle between us will be more private—without so many witnesses. If I were you, I would watch your back…and your pretty little girlfriend,” said Wolf as he stalked away with Hayden following close behind. Todd quickly followed.