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on 6 November 2014
I don't understand how this book has received 5* reviews from other readers? I won't say it was the worst book I've read but I won't be recommending it to anyone in the future. I love reading/watching all Horrors. This seemed like rubbIish-er Silent Hill x Infuriating Ground Hog Day. The main character is pathetic and I wanted her to meet an end within the first couple of pages. There is literally a whole chapter about her getting her hair cut and advice on how to pour a bottled beer: thrilling. (Sorry if that's a Spoiler!) I look forward to reading the next book in the series : I hear she buys a new lip gloss and her equally boring boyfriend develops an interest in red wine.
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on 21 August 2017
This was a good read, I wouldn't say amazing. It struck me as a cross between The Dark by James Herbert, Groundhog Day and an episode of Buffy.

Alma is a teacher with a troubled past that haunts her. But Alma doesn't remember what happened to her in the town of Widowsfield only that it was horrific. But the town doesn't want it to let it lie, it wants her to come back and complete the cycle. But will she live through it?

The tension started from the beginning of the book but didnt seem to grow for me as the book progressed. The characters were ok and fairly believable. I would like to know what happens with the series but in no real rush.
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on 27 March 2015
Combining gruesome descriptions of supernatural events with character-driven investigation, Wise demonstrates that, just as the body and mind are both part of human experience, tales of demonic evil need not be either mere titillation or thinly veiled morality.

Alma Harper’s brother disappeared on 14th March 1996. Alma believes it happened in Widowsfield, on the same day the town was mysteriously abandoned, but can only remember fragments. Her mother spent the rest of her life obsessed with the number 314. Her father denies they were there that day. Sixteen years later, Alma is a successful and well-loved music teacher. But when the reporters sent to cover the opening of a new music room turn out to also be investigating Widowsfield, Alma is drawn back into the horrors of her past.

The novel is told in two threads: one following the protagonists in 2012 and one showing brief moments in Widowsfield on 14th March 1996. Balancing Alma’s ongoing struggle for closure and snippets of evidence provided without a wider context, Wise provides the reader with enough extra knowledge to feel fear while still sharing Alma’s struggle to unravel the truth.

The scenes of 14th March 1996, for the most part, focus on gory supernatural horror, whereas the 2012 time line focuses on character with little overt threat. This counterpoint both makes the horror more horrific and avoids the building implausibility that repeated gore risks.

While the evidence does start to fit together in the later section of the book, Wise’s combination of a partially amnesiac protagonist and narrowly framed scenes from the incident might make the first part of the novel frustrating to readers who do not enjoy struggling to uncover each snippet of possibility.

Wise’s characterisation is similarly well-balanced. Drawn to her ex-boyfriend yet remembering how bad for her he could be and worried about her job, Alma’s current happiness rests on more than achieving closure on her past. As well as preventing her from being one-dimensional, this complexity undercuts the possibility of happy ever after, making her inner struggles more than the good-vs-evil of some horror.

The same conflicted motives and hidden qualities are revealed in the remaining cast. Although the flaws of both the reporters and Alma’s friends pale in comparison with the creatures behind Widowsfield, the readers opinion on whether they are villains or troubled heroes is likely to change several times.

While this novel is very clearly the first part of a series, it features a strong main arc which is resolved at the end. Combined with the constant sense of only seeing parts of a greater whole that Wise creates throughout, it is likely that readers who reach the ending will find it further cause to speculate rather than a mere hook for the next book.

Overall I enjoyed this book greatly, although more for the challenge of uncovering more of the truth than the overt gore. I recommend it to readers seeking a mix of visceral horror and mystery.
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on 19 June 2013
This book raises your blood pressure to start with, your adrenaline flows madly and by the time you're partway through your nerves are shot! Keep on writing Mr Wise!
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on 19 March 2017
I received this book free in return for an honest review. If you have ever seen the film. "Groundhog Day" you will notice similarities with this story, the only difference is that the characters get killed over and over again. Each time they are killed it is a different, bloody gore fest. I still cannot explain the plot, but apparently all becomes clear in book two. I won't be reading book two, not that interested!
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on 15 August 2013
I read quite a few of the reviews before downloading this book to my kindle. It seemed to hold promise and I was looking forward to it.
However the promise was broken.
The book was not, for me, an enjoyable read.
I found it to be confusing, jumpy to the point of ridiculousness, repetitive in several places.
The story wasn't even believable on a supernatural level, none of it meshed, none of it felt very cohesive, and the flow wasn't good. It was as if the author just sat there and wrote down whatever came to mind at the time, without any sort of planning and regardless of what had previously been written. I found the characters to be stereotypical, dull, wooden and cliched... Druggie tattooed biker, meek little school teacher, blah blah blah.
The overall editing was acceptable, but that just couldn't make up for the complete lack of a storyline. Nothing made sense, no explanations were given, the ending felt hurried, rushed and just kind of thrown together. I assume an attempt to force people into buying the second book, but not one at was effective for me.
I only give it two stars because I did read through to the end, in the hopes that an explanation would be given. I wouldn't have bothered if I had known that one isn't, and I would've rated it 1*, but the fact that I did complete it warrants an extra.
I wouldn't recommend this.
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on 10 June 2014
“The Skeleton Man is here….

This is honestly the best horror book I have read so far. I am not easily scared, I’ve read and watched all kinds of horror and remained calm and collected. This book opened my eyes to uncertainty, to the uncomfortable feeling that someone might be lurking in the shadows..

The book flits from 1996 to 2012 from chapter to chapter and in doing this the author builds an extremely tense atmosphere whilst simultaneously telling the story of the main character, Alma. At first when the book swapped from some rather nasty happenings to a more neutral setting I was unsure, but A R Wise has a fantastic writing style and the skill to pull off this structure of story telling.

The Skeleton Man is quite possibly one of the scariest book characters I have come across, resembling a mixture of Jack Skellington (Nightmare Before Christmas) and The Slender Man he had taken up residence in my head the first time he was mentioned. Each appearance only adding to the horrific image I had built up.

There are three books in the 314 series and I am definitely going to read them all, I want to know more about this story, before I was even through with the first page I had become hooked on the curse of 314. By the time I was into the third section of the book I was checking in the mirror whilst brushing my teeth to ensure than nobody was behind me.. like.. The Skeleton Man.

I feel like inspirations behind this story may have included Silent Hill the creatures described and the way they make their appearances remind me of that. However there is also a fantastic imagination behind these stories and I cannot wait to delve further in to the mind of Mr A R Wise.

…..and he taught me how to hate”.
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on 31 August 2013
Although the first few pages showed promise, the rest of the book was unfortunately disjointed and disappointing. There were also so many spelling and grammatical errors that I found it impossible to enjoy.
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on 25 May 2014
I got this book as a freebie on Amazon and immediatley upon finishing it I was right back on there buying books 2 and 3 of the trilogy.

I find this is a kind of hard one to review without giving spoilers and I'm trying to reign myself in as my mind is still very much on the story and I am champing at the bit to get onto book 2. I have another book that I have been dying to read that's waiting on my kindle app which I planned to start after finishing this one, it's now going on the back burner till I have read the next two parts of this series.

It's different, it's original, it's a page turner, so much of a page turner that the birds were singing and daylight coming in the window by the time I finished it. I had to force myself to sleep and not start the next one right there and then.

The scenes and situations are written in such way that your imagination runs away with you and at times the graphic descriptions had me cringing. The writing style and the way story flows had me reminiscing of the earlier King and Herbert books I read years ago when I first discovered my love for horror and would make a great movie.

The skeleton man is coming and I got two more books to read before he gets here...
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on 18 May 2017
Great start - exceptional actually, but then very confusing. Lots of wasted pages on shopping tips and haircuts and in fact most of the middle of the book can be skipped. It adds nothing. Decent ending as well but just too much repetition and padding. I've read another book by this author and it was much better.
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