‘Parricide’ – S. Briones Lim
Stanley Heckley’s world was torn apart the night his wife and infant daughter were murdered by his wife’s ex-lover, James Gandy. Left with no family to call his own, Stanley is consumed with rage and thirsts to exact revenge in the only way he thinks is fair – to kill Gandy’s entire bloodline. Unfortunately for Stanley, his timid personality and good conscience makes killing a difficult task to accomplish.
Tormented by his inability to avenge his family, Stanley seeks the help of a distant acquaintance known simply as the vampire, Geoff. Touched by Stanley’s plight, Geoff takes it upon himself to give Stanley a thirst for blood and the talent to kill. As a newly turned vampire, Stanley joins Geoff on a complex mission of murder and vengeance as they hunt each member of the Gandy family one by one, wiping the entire bloodline from existence.
Or so they thought.
Over a century later, Stanley learns that a dire mistake has left one Gandy alive. Once again faced with the monsters of his past, Stanley finds himself returning to his hometown of Meyers to hunt the remaining descendant, Amanda. From the get-go, Stanley’s mission is plagued with many obstacles including a new henchman for Geoff, a ghost of a young, sadistic girl, and the fact that Amanda looks remarkably like his late wife. For this member of the undead, hunting the final Gandy may just be the death of him.
About the author:
Thanks to her Mom’s unwavering devotion to read a bedtime story to her every single night throughout her childhood years, S. Briones Lim’s love for books began before she could even speak.
Raised in Southern California, author S. Briones Lim initially dreamt of becoming an artist and/or book author. A Psychology Degree (Summa cum Laude), a stint in Art School, and a career in Advertising/Media later, she is finally delving back into her first love – books. As a self-renowned bookworm, S. Briones Lim’s love for books has inspired her to pen her own novels and hopes her readers will fall in love with her stories as much as she enjoyed writing them.
Author of the ‘Life Force’ trilogy, S. Briones Lim’s other obsessions include time with family, POPCORN, watching movies and her pug, Tobi. She currently lives on the East Coast with her husband and continues to write everyday.
‘Parricide’ is a different horror book compared to the typical vampire stories I have read in the past. A dual-narrative with flashbacks to how the story began, I found this an intriguing narrative that had my curiosity building as the plot reached its climax.
The narrative moves from Stanley in 1904, when the tragedy of his wife and daughter’s murders sets him on a path of revenge, to present day, when he has returned to his home town to finally finish this mission. Briones Lim also switches between present day Stanley and Amanda, the woman who has returned to find out more about an apparent curse that has haunted her predecessors. I felt that this non-linear narrative works really well; as 1904 Stanley continues his mission of revenge and we learn about how the Gandys were destroyed, readers are brought back to present day and see Amanda getting closer to the truth about what happened. I found it enriching to find out about the past as the narrative moved forwards and felt this just added to my intrigue into events. Rather than being given the past all at once, readers are almost living it at the same time that Amanda is researching events.
The scenes between Stanley and Amanda were quite tense as we see how Stanley tries to keep curious Amanda from learning his secrets. It is at these points that I found the characterisation a little weak. Amanda keeps throwing out questions to Stanley about his knowledge of her family history, his responses are pretty rubbish and, surprisingly, Amanda just accepts this. Maybe because she is blinded by her attraction to him (which, thankfully, does not drive this narrative forwards), but her desire to know the truth just did not match this acceptance to Stanley’s lies. I found myself hoping she would challenge him more and unfortunately this did not happen.
Throughout the present-day story, there is a mysterious little girl who clearly knows Stanley’s secret, but at the same time appears to Amanda which encourages her to question the “truth” she is being presented with. Either I missed something major in the story, but Briones Lim does not reveal who this ghostly little girl is. Her ghostly presence adds to the mystery of the story and by the end of the narrative, I had plenty of theories about who she could be and her purpose. Unfortunately she is dismissed by the end of the story and I wished that the author had expanded on this a bit more.
Throughout the novel, Stanley is warned about his actions from his creator, telling him if the “Bureaucracy” find out about Stanley’s murders, there would be serious consequences. The reader is finally presented with the Bureaucracy as the story builds towards its climax but, like the little girl, I had found myself hoping that this did feature more in the development of the story, particularly as Stanley returns to his home town where he had committed atrocious murders in the century before.
It was a delight to read a story that is not part of a trilogy and did just finish properly on the final page. Whilst I found the ending a little rushed, it was still satisfying and worthwhile. The climax between Stanley and Amanda was fulfilling but I think it would have been better if the author had perhaps included an epilogue to further explain the outcomes. Indeed, whilst this might have ruined the fast-paced ending, it may have lessened my opinion that this was a bit rushed.
‘Parricide’ was a good read for me. I don’t read many horror books and I enjoyed the unique storyline. If you enjoy reading horrors and vampire stories, then I definitely recommend this to you. If not, give this one a go because the mystery and intrigue will certainly have you hooked.
This book was provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.
Author S. Briones Lim is giving away Kindle or Nook copies (depending on the winner’s preference) of her novels ‘Green’ and ‘Red’. This competition is open internationally for readers aged 13 and up, as long as you are eligible for Amazon and/or Barnes and Noble gifting. The giveaway will run the length of the tour (7th April – 14th April). Good luck!
Excerpt from the novel:
Stanley April 9, 1904
“No! Please don’t shoot!” Her voice wavered slightly though she tried her hardest to remain firm and unfazed. Had it not been for the tremor in her tone and the unmistakable trembling of her shoulders, the intruder might have bought her act of valor.
The terrified cries of my wife echoed against the bare wooden walls causing me to run in a panic. I flew down a flight of stairs towards the parlor area and noticed the dim flicker of a single candle illuminating the room. It added an eerie ambiance to what was to be the most horrifying moment of my life.
“Gandy! What do you think you’re doing?! Get your hands off my wife!” I shouted with pure ferocity. I wouldn’t be surprised if the blood vessels in my eyes had burst open given the tint of red that shadowed my vision.
“Well, well, lookit ‘ere who it is,” Gandy slurred drunkenly as he gripped my wife’s strawberry blond hair between his fingers. “It’s Stanley Heckley! Or might I say, the Great Stanley Heckley.” He cackled and peered down at my wife.
My eyes fell instantly onto Christiana’s tear stained face. I made an attempt to rush forward, however, she shook her head slightly and mouthed, “Go! Save Katie.”
My stomach wrenched as I pictured our three-month-old daughter hidden under the floorboards in the main room upstairs. She was safe – for now.
I cleared my throat and stood up straighter. Holding my hands out as a final plea, I said as calmly, but with as much authority as I could muster, “Gandy, please put down the gun. You had a little too much to drink tonight and I promise that if you walk out of here this instant, I will not tell the authorities of this little incident.”
I braced myself for his reaction and was surprised to hear a hearty chuckle in response. Christiana winced as he continued his belly laugh and pulled tightly against her head. Her beautiful braid was now a rat’s nest and I was surprised not to find clumps of her pinkish locks strewn along the floor.
“Do you think you have the right to tell me what to do?” Gandy laughed hysterically. With his gun toting hand he reached up and wiped tears from the corners of his eyes.
“I beg your pardon but I don’t see the humor in this situation,” I growled.
“You want to know what’s funny?” Gandy snapped. “The fact that Christiana here picked you over me. What does she see in you anyway? Nothing but a stack of cash that your daddy gave you.”
I glanced around the room frantically, looking for any escape route. My eyes focused on the window and my mind methodically went over any possible option I had to get my family out of this situation. It was as if everything was running in slow motion, from the flow of my blood through my veins to the harsh beating of my pained heart.
“Are you listening to me?!” Gandy’s hazy voice interrupted my frantic thoughts.
I gulped. “Yes, Gandy.”
His eyes widened as he pointed the barrel toward me. Christiana gasped and began pleading frantically, begging for him to drop the gun. Ignoring her cries, he lifted an eyebrow as he looked me dead in the eye. “It’s yes, sir,” he corrected.
I nodded my head. “Yes, sir,” I replied through gritted teeth.
His lips curled up into a sinister grin and he began pacing the room dragging Christiana along with him. She grabbed at his hand, trying to pry his fingers from her scalp, but was unsuccessful. The gray skirt of her dress, a birthday present from me, dragged behind her, becoming soiled with the dust from the floor.
“Now, I don’t know why you’re stupid enough to come back to town,” he said through gritted teeth. “The folks here were finally steer clear of the Heckleys, yet here you are infesting our town again with your filthy riches. You think your family’s better than all of us here, don’t you? Just because of your blue blood ways.”
“Gandy,” I said in an even tone. It pained me to even speak, my throat dry and parched from fear. “Please leave my property. We’ll deal with this when you’re sober in the morning.”
“This ain’t about being sober! This is about the abomination that your family has bestowed upon the less privileged. That’s why you came back to town now, isn’t it? To take over all the businesses that your greedy father wasn’t able to get his cold, vile hands on! You should have stayed in God knows where you were!”
“It was a mistake to come back,” I agreed as I nodded my head; and good God did I agree. “We only came back to tie up ends concerning my father’s estate. Nothing more.”
“Ah, yes,” he grinned. “That’s right! Your old man croaked a month ago, didn’t he?”
My blood began boiling and instinctively my fists clenched together. “Yes,” I said in a raspy tone. The pain of having lost my father still burned freshly in my heart. Hearing Gandy speak so nonchalantly about his passing made me want to gouge his eyes out. That would have to wait. For now I needed to focus on helping my sweet wife.
I cleared my throat and continued, “We’ll tie up loose ends and leave town immediately.” I gestured towards the room. “We’ll leave this house and never return to it again.” My eyes widened as realization came over me. “Is this what you want? Do you want my property? It’s yours! Take it! Take everything in here!”
Gandy snickered. “I don’t want your house,” he snapped. He glanced down at Christiana and brushed the gun across her face. She and I stiffened simultaneously, our breaths caught in our throats. “What I do want is your wife,” he continued.
“I’m sorry, but I can’t do that,” I replied angrily.
“Why? She’s already mine!” He shouted. “Do you really think your sweet Christiana was a virgin when she met you? When she wed you? Her naked body was under mine before you even had a chance to look her in the eye!”
Though I tried to remain calm and composed, I couldn’t help but glance desperately at my wife. Her eyes were clamped shut and she began to sob, proof that what Gandy had said was true.
“It was a long time ago!” Christiana screamed. “Before I met you!”
“Shut up, whore!” Gandy growled.
I gulped. “I don’t care,” I said sternly. “She is my wife and anything she may have done before me is of no consequence. I took a vow.” Christiana’s eyelids flew open in relief. Her gaze fell upon mine and we held each other’s eyes as if saying silent I love you’s though it felt more like goodbyes.
Gandy stiffened and gripped her hair tighter. Losing composure he stammered, “Well, did she tell you we made love a quarter’s night ago?”
Christiana had been with me, caring for our infant daughter. Gandy was full of fucking shit. Though I felt like rolling my eyes, I knew better. “Gandy,” I said instead. “It is late and I demand you to leave my property.”
Gandy’s hands began to grow limp and for a moment I thought that we would be able to put this whole unfortunate situation behind us. My family and I would leave town immediately, never glancing back. Father’s estate would just have to take care of itself and it could stay rotting. It could be food for the termites and worms for all I cared. Unfortunately, that is not how it happened.
Katie’s cry rang through the household, a cry for food, for love, for attention? A cry that still rings through my head every day.
“What is that?” Gandy cried out in a horrified tone. “Another Heckley?!” He looked down at Christiana’s face in shock and anger. “How dare you breed another member of this foul family?” Gandy released her hair, throwing Christiana to the ground. He quickly turned on his heel making his way through my house. His gangly body made odd shadows on the wall as his loose, wavy, blond hair flew in wisps behind him.
“No!” Christiana shouted. She ran after him, pushing him away as she followed Katie’s cries. She ran quickly up the stairs, frantically searching for our daughter. Though I had hidden our infant under a loose floorboard, the emptiness of the house made it difficult to mask her cries. The acoustics amplified her wails easily marking her hiding place.
Gandy steadied himself, having never let go of the gun, and began sprinting after Christiana. He raced up the grand staircase, two steps at a time, and was quickly gaining ground. I desperately followed after him and flew up the staircase as rapidly as I could. A surge of adrenaline rushed through me and I quickly caught up with him in the upstairs hallway, tackling him to the ground. I grabbed at his hand and began beating it against the wooden stair rail, trying to dislodge the gun. Briefly looking up, I noticed Christiana through the open door of the master bedroom retrieving Katie, carefully swaddling her in her arms.
“Run!” I shouted as I successfully knocked the gun out of Gandy’s thin hand. He growled in pain as I pushed his palm into the ground.
Christiana nodded and looked around for an exit. Remembering the ancient Servants’ passageway, she turned and headed for the door, trying to make a sudden right into the adjacent hallway. Simultaneously, Gandy managed to knee me in the groin and bit my hand, knocking the breath out of me. I fell backwards for a moment, looking up in time to see him grab his gun. Regaining my balance, I lunged forward in an attempt to tackle him. Unfortunately, it was too late. As if in slow motion I saw him cock his gun and aim toward my wife and daughter. With a deafening bang, Gandy pulled the trigger, the gun recoiling against him. Christiana’s eyes went wide as the bullet flew towards her, penetrating my baby girl and in turn traveling through my wife’s body.
“NO!” I screamed.
My throat went hoarse and tears burned my eyes as I watched my family fall to the ground. Blood trickled from Christiana’s mouth and her eyes rolled back, lifeless and vacant. Red stains smeared Katie’s crocheted blanket, turning pink towards the white edges.
Panting heavily, I looked down at Gandy who appeared surprised himself; disbelieving of his own atrocious act. I yelled out inaudibly and kicked out my black leather boot, hitting him square across his face. He fell backward, loosening his grip on the gun, and his nose quickly began spouting out spurts of blood. Quickly grabbing for the gun, I reveled in the cold steel against my palm. Aiming it straight for Gandy’s head, I pulled the hammer back and placed my finger on the trigger.
“Do it!” Gandy demanded. “Do it! I just killed my one and only love!” He began sobbing, the effects of alcohol wearing off his body.
“She never loved you,” I hissed. My hand began trembling, my grip on the gun growing weaker with each passing second. “So what if she slept with you? It was a long time ago and you were just a warm body who never had a hold of her heart.”
He growled at me with narrowed eyes, but soon started laughing as he focused in on the shaking gun. “You can’t do it, can you? You can’t pull that trigger! You may be a useless fuck getting all you want with daddy’s money, but you don’t have the ballocks to kill a man – even when he just shot the fuck out of your family!”
Trembling with rage I applied pressure to the trigger.
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