{Review/Giveaway} HAVEN, KANSAS by Alethea Kontis

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O P E N I N G   H O O K:

Haven, Kansas
    THE tingling burn spread out from the center of Erin's chest like slow lightning, so paralytic at first that she worried her body would forget how to breathe. But her body was breathing. Was moving.

It just wasn't Erin moving it.

The wind howled through the trees and sent dried leaves cartwheeling before her in the full moon's light.

No. This can't be happening. No, no NO.

If Erin could only rewind her life to an hour ago, when she had stupidly chosen a boy over her best friend. To thirty minutes ago, when she had thought it was a good idea to let him take her out to the middle of nowhere. To ten minutes ago, when she had come to her senses and stomped off into the creekwood alone. To five minutes ago, just before that lost spirit had entered her body. A Ghost Dancer, her grandmother had called them. Erin had always loved those stories.

Not anymore.

(Pages 1-2, US kindle edition)

A huge, important discussion immediately launched around her, but Lora only caught bits and pieces over the roaring in her ears. So this is what heartbreak sounds like.  


It is few and far between where a book makes me have to walk away to take a breath or process my emotions. Also is it rare for me to find a book that gives me goosebumps, makes me cry, and then makes me laugh in such quick succession. I was ready for a good scary story, but HAVEN, KANSAS by Alethea Kontis gives you so much more than that. There were moments I had to step away, pace anxiously around my living room processing what I read, wringing my hands and worrying about the characters.

The most brilliant aspect of this story, in my humble opinion, is the way the author approaches the whole idea of horror. There is something in this book for everyone. If you like the visual of someone getting stabbed in the chest by a possessed golem scarecrow, DING DING DING, this book is for you. If the gory horror stuff isn't really your cup of tea and you prefer the buildup of psychological horror with a dash of mystery CONGRATULATIONS, YOU WIN TOO. Kontis balances a little bit of everything, a taste of this sandwiched between a taste of that. If you don't like gore, those moments don't last too long, Kontis gives you a rapid taste to get your mouth shifting into that "O" of horror and disgust, and then she moves on to focus on the fear building in the characters, the sense of loss or helplessness in the face of a supernatural force they don't understand.

Lora is probably going to go down in my mental list as one of the top ten main characters I've had the opportunity to meet this year.  This is one of those books where the POV shifts between characters, but it is still very clear that we are centered around Lora. Black eyeliner, purple lipstick, she's that gothic character that has heavy armor linked in with her individuality, and her best friend Erin is really the only person that gets to pierce through to the person within. Erin is lost early on in the story, and what that does to Lora is gut wrenching in and of itself. Grief is hard enough to bear on its own without ghosts and witches being weaved into things, and there were moments I felt for Lora so badly that I didn't understand how she was pushing forward and finding the strength to keep trying to unravel the things happening around her. I'll say she probably made it because of the support of her family. While this is a horror story, it's also a tale of family and friendship, the powerful things you can do when you are not as alone as you thought you were.

And the tale itself is so well weaved. Sometimes you prepare yourself for a horror story to exist solely for the purpose of creeping you out. That isn't the case with HAVEN, KANSAS. The plot is rich, layers added with the turn of every page. It's not just a story about witches and ghosts and murderous scarecrows. It's about vengeance, about how a soul can be tainted by hatred and the wrongful actions of others, and most importantly it's about the human condition; finding strength in moments of helplessness, protecting those you loved, taking a second to understand that nothing is ever as simple as good verses evil. Oh god and the humor!!! Can I just take a second to say that the humor in this story was such a pleasant surprise? It wasn't overdone, it wasn't unrealistic, it's exactly the sort of slapstick sarcastic humor you expect from characters during a moment of tension or horror. They've got to do something to keep their heads in the game, to grab onto one half second of normalcy so they can keep it together. It made me laugh every single time, it would make me drop my guard down so that when the next curve ball came I wasn't ready and it made more of an impact.

If you are looking for a good Halloween read that is more than just a good Halloween read, then HAVEN, KANSAS, by Alethea Kontis is a book I'd recommend for you. I hope you enjoy the real and raw characters as much as I do, and the mix of supernatural horror with psychological anticipatory terror. I seriously feel like it was the perfect book to wrap up our The Books Hiding Under Your Bed Week event.


Content Ratings: highlight between ( ) for details

Romance: PG13 ( There are a few make out scenes, but the romance doesn't get much further than that. )
Language: PG 13 ( A few general curses like shit and damn, but they are sprinkled sparingly )
Violence:  PG13 Violence throughout the book; suicide, murder, gore. The narration doesn't make it too graphic or linger on it any longer than necessary to move the plot alone. )
Other:  --
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

I love this cover. I love how the title bleeds into the art with the word HAVEN grey and part of the background, while Kansas is a flamy orange, like it was close enough to catch a spark coming off of the burning girl. It's ominous enough to have a burning character on a cover, but the way the crows break from the flames and then blacken towards the top of the page is a hint that this book is going to hold supernatural themed horrors within.
O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Author: Alethea Kontis
Release Date: Oct. 22, 2016
Publisher: Alethea Kontis


Never reap a harvest sown with blood.

150 years ago, in Haven, Kansas, a witch was burned at the stake. This October, in Haven, Kansas, a boy plays a prank on his big sister. Suddenly, crows fill the skies, a female scarecrow plagues the town, and teenagers are dying left and right. Amidst the violence, strange things keep happening. Lora Townsend discovers a secret room behind the wall of her bedroom, in which a dark and foul Book of Shadows has been hiding for over a century. The book belonged to an ancestor who documented the spells and stories of the strange woman he loved...a woman the town later killed for practicing witchcraft.

There are whispers on the wind. The death toll is rising. And Lora and her family seem to be the center of it all. They must call upon Lora's small knowledge of magic to help them. Will they be able to take the town back from the witch, and can they manage it without losing their lives in the process?

Lois Duncan meets Joss Whedon in this literary slasher for the twenty-first century!


Filled with a generous mix of fantasy, intrigue, and grab-you-by-the-throat horror, Alethea Kontis’s HAVEN is a powerhouse novel every fan of fine YA literature should have on the shelf.”

“Kontis writes with poise and passion, delivering chills and thrills with every page. A must read.” —New York Times bestselling author Sherrilyn Kenyon

“HAVEN is a page-turner and its characters are drawn well—they're believable, both in their actions and in their dialogue (the ‘dialogue’ of young teens isn't as easily captured as some writers with less talent believe). It’s an exciting tale of witchery and revenge, told with style and intelligence, that is, most importantly, a heck of a lot of fun. I simply enjoyed it from start to finish.” —T. M. Wright, author of A MANHATTAN GHOST STORY



During The Books Under Your Bed Week,
We're giving away a book of YOUR CHOICE
from the event!

It could be HAVEN, KANSAS!

This giveaway is INTERNATIONAL to any country that Book Depository ships to.  You can also claim an e-book as a prize; it doesn't have to be a physical copy!

You must be at least 13 years old to enter or have a parent's permission!

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