Book Review: The Residence – Andrew Pyper


Release Date – September 1, 2020

Skybound Books

Pages: 352


“My dear Clara, it seems that the White House is haunted.”

– Major Archie Butt, summer 1911.

The only written record of ‘the Thing’ that haunts the White House has always fascinated me. Growing up, my Grandma Hankins always had copies of the Weekly World News sitting around her house, and I remember one such story vividly – the ghost in the White House. Is it Lincoln’s son who died while he was in office? Is it Pierce’s son who died in a train accident prior to his presidency?

No matter what it is, Pyper has latched onto an amazing moment in US paranormal history and created a stunning dread-filled story.

It’s no secret I’m a Pyper fan. His writing voice is second to none and his novels have a way of immediately capturing your attention and then keeping you engrossed. One such trait Pyper has, that many “high profile” authors lack, is his willingness to go there. The darker areas. The seedier spots of horror. A perfect example is the ending to his last novel ‘The Homecoming,’ or the horrors that he wrapped his readers in with ‘The Demonologist.’ Pyper is willing to make his readers squirm and with ‘The Residence’ boy does he ever.

What I liked: While I was reading this, I tweeted out how this book read like Pyper’s writing in 2020 with the dread he infused in ‘Lost Girls.’ When I read ‘Lost Girls’ I knew something bad had happened, something I didn’t want to know. But Andrew pulled me along and when it came together you felt heart broken and despondent. Much like Andrew Cull’s recent release ‘Remains,’ ‘The Residence’ at its core is a story about grief and how it affects those impacted by it. Both physically and psychologically. There are essentially four main characters playing out here; President Pierce, his wife Jane, The White House itself and the presidency. You see, as things continue to spiral and Jane grows more and more withdrawn, Pierce constantly has to decide what can and can’t be made public and how the perceptions of the people to his decisions will look. Pierce had a presidency marked with highs and lows within the slavery era, and while Pyper touches on that, he does so with delicacy.

The story arc of Jane was really well done, and while you may argue that the main character was Pierce, I’d suggest that the true character to follow was her and her struggles, her acceptance and her resolve.

The secondary characters here were also fantastic. Pyper used them as fantastic set pieces, coming and going as needed and aiding when asked. You could see that they had a singular devotion – to the house and the presidency.

Lastly – ‘the Thing.’ The synopsis tells us upfront that after losing their son Bennie and then moving into the White House, Franklin and Jane begin to experience things. That synopsis does not prepare you in the least for what is to come. Pyper has once again crafted some amazingly frightening moments, parts in this book will stay with you for many, many years to come. To say I was riveted really doesn’t do it justice. Outstanding frights.

What I didn’t like: I loved this book, but there was two small parts that I found wishing for more. The first was Jane’s relative. Because Jane is unwilling to participate in public events, Pierce recruits a stand-in for her. They do develop some feelings towards each other; Franklin struggling with seemingly having lost his son to death and his wife to grief, but then for a period, the relative disappears and we don’t hear much from her.

The second part that I wished for more was hearing about the sisters who rose to prominence in paranormal circles. Pyper does have them both for a period featured and then one of the sisters returns near the end, but the paranormal fan in me was hoping they’d play a bigger role.

Neither of these things worked as a detriment to the overall story, and truthfully – this is more me splitting hairs to show that I can look at and read a Pyper book fairly!

Why you should buy it: This one ticks off a number of boxes for horror/thriller/ghost fans. This has moments that made me feel like it had been influenced by The Shining as well as Books of Blood period Barker. The descriptions are lush yet pointed, creating a claustrophobic setting in a house that is expansive and a mansion.

Pyper, to me at least, is the most confident writer I’ve ever read who is unfailing in his approach to delivering. From the beginning, to the middle and then the ending, everything has a place, a purpose. Just look at the toy mentioned throughout – The General. If you have any plastic army men kicking around, you’ll never look at them the same way after one particular scene.

I know I frequently sing my praises for Pyper – but rightfully so. After delivering a stunning novel in ‘The Homecoming’ to return in such short time with an absolute gem of historical fiction with this shows he’s really found a groove and there seems to be no slowing down.

Recently it was announced that this book had been picked up for production to become a historical fiction/non-fiction series. Now having finished this book, that couldn’t be a more perfect fit.

For new fans or fans of old, Pyper has given us another gift and easily one of his best books. I’m so thankful to have been allowed to give this one an early read and it didn’t disappoint.

Thank you to Skybound Books, Simon & Schuster, Simon & Schuster Canada and Andrew Pyper for the copy for review. Thank you to Michael Patrick Hicks for giving me the heads up that this was available on Edelweiss and thank you to Edelweiss for the approval. I already have the Hardcover and the Kindle copies pre-ordered!


Writing Update!

Hey friends! Welcome back! If you’ve previously missed the note – I’m doing a blog post every two weeks now, just with how hectic life is!

I’m going to keep this simple and straight forward! This weeks is 100% on my writing projects!

What I’m Working On;

Here’s an update on almost every single thing I’m working on right now!

The Window in the Ground – with David Sodergren for copy editing. Once back, I’ll go through, finish the edits and then this will head off to Ross & Joseph at The Writing Collective for formatting and release prep. Believe we’re looking at a July-ish release!

COMMUNION – I’m done everything on my end. It will head to Sodergren once he is ready for copy editing. Then back to me, finished, formatted and prepped for release. Prob see the light of day in a few months! I’m already feeling a buzz about this one and I think the direction it takes will be well received. FYI – still brutal, still depraved, just more story!

Piece of Me Hardcover – the hardcovers with the limited artwork are now live on Lulu! I would suggest highly that you order from Lulu – simply because it is the lowest price point. I’ve managed to whittle it down to $24 on there, and Lulu frequently has discount codes – which you can apply at checkout. It is now available on Amazon but I can’t control the prices and they are pretty crazy!

Cathedral of the Skinned – the sequel to Piece of Me is about 50% done draft one. While I know that sounds like not much, rest assured, with the way I work, it’ll be through draft two and three within the next few months.

Carry the Moon – the finale in the Sermons of Sorrow trilogy is actually plotted and I’ve written bits and pieces. I’ll keep you updated on that!

Wound Upon Wound – my serial novella has been a super fun exercise! A new chapter added each week. The latest is now live!

Scott: A Wagon Buddy Tale – the sequel to Wagon Buddy, and one I’ve actually been receiving messages about lately, asking when will it arrive, is done and awaiting to be sent to Sodergren. Again, once back, I’ll finish edits and prep for release! I’ll keep you updated!

456 Blatchford Drive – I’ve given bits and pieces about this one. Its a folk tale, its a haunted house tale, and its coming together nicely. I’m about 75% done draft one. I’m still looking to make this a highly limited release. I may only do 5 hardcovers and 10 paperbacks total. We’ll see. I want to create something unique for book lovers! I’ll keep you posted as always!

Mastodon – With so many freakin’ projects always on the go, its inevitable that something will get pushed aside – that is Mastodon. Have I even really mentioned this one that much? Here’s a teaser image;

Mastodon Teaser 1

Have I even given much info on a synopsis?

17 years ago, Tyler’s mother disappeared in the Canadian Rockies. Now, on the anniversary, he receives a phone call from the RCMP – the plane his father was on has lost contact and presumed crashed near where his mother was last seen. Tyler doesn’t believe that it was an accident. Armed with almost two decades of wilderness survival, he decides to hike into the area and search for his dad. Nothing will prepare him for what he will find.

Sound good?

Having seen the synopsis and the cover(which this image is NOT), The Writing Collective is also keen to take a look at the finished product for possible publication. At this point, it’s completely plotted, but I haven’t spent any time writing anything yet. Will keep you posted!

The Boy Whose Room Was Outside – I’ve been putting this one aside recently to work on COMMUNION, The Window and Scott. Recently I read a book called Where the Woods End and it actually helped me with this one. The Boy… is a YA/Middle Grade fantasy story and I think I was struggling with it a bit because I wanted to make sure I didn’t go too dark. After reading Where the Woods End, I’ve been reinvigorated with what I can do! I’ll be focusing on this one the next two-three weeks to really flesh it out before getting prepped for Sodergren.


Before you go!

On Tuesday, February 25th, 2020 my 200th review was featured on Kendall Reviews! That’s right – 200! I probably have another two dozen still to be featured, but its been great to have connected with Gavin and for him to let me share my love of horror. Originally, I was just going to post my reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. He said he could host them and the rest is history!

My 200th review was for the amazing “The Passengers You Cannot See” by The Behrg. The Behrg has always been an amazing supporter of my writing and reviewing and this was some nice planning by Gavin on the back end to sync this review up with the 200th!

If you missed the review you can see it here;

{Book Review} The Passengers You Cannot See: The Behrg

So, now you might be asking yourself – what was review #1! I actually couldn’t even remember! I have all of the reviews here on the blog under the Kendall Reviews tab, so I went there and what do you know?! My first review was for another amazing collection by another author who has been amazing since day one!

“Dreaming At the Top of My Lungs” by Israel Finn is a must read collection and what a nice bit of kismet there that those are the two that ended up being my first featured and my 200th!

Dreaming At The Top Of My Lungs: Israel Finn (Kendall Review)

Alright, so there we have it!

No new post next week, but a new chapter will once again be added for Wound Upon Wound!

Take care friends!



Book Review: Where the Woods End


Where the Woods End – Charlotte Salter

August 14, 2018

304 Pages


Sometimes, in the book world, you stumble on a gem.

Here in Canada, we have a store called Shoppers Drug Mart. Depending on your location they will have a book section, some larger than others. Most of the locations will also have a discount book bin – where books they want to get rid of go to die. I have had wonderful success with these bins. Most of the books are 80% off, but occasionally they’ll just have a new sticker price on it that is well below the price on the cover. This bin was where I found a brand new hardcover copy of Michael Crichton’s ‘Dragon Teeth’ for $3. Retail price – $39.99. So it was, that recently I took a look and saw a copy of this book ‘Where the Woods End’ by Charlotte Salter. 80% off and featuring a fantastic cover. I checked the synopsis and was sold. I grabbed the hardcover to read with my son in the future, but as I usually do, I’ll message some book friends to ask if they’ve read it. When I messaged Bookden Jen, she said she hadn’t but we decided to do a buddy read.

This was only my second buddy read ever and it was a blast.

The book is tailored towards Middle Grade readers. I don’t have a lot of experience reading in that category, but from what Jen said, this was one of the creepier books she’s read in that category. I concur. If you never told me the age category for this, I’d have no problem believing this was a straight ahead Dark Fantasy/Horror book.

The story follows Kestrel, a 12 year old girl, who lives in the woods in a small village. She lives near her mom, Kestrel refusing to sleep in the house. She has a side-kick, her trusty weasel friend Pippit and she’s armed with a spoon she received from her dad. Her dad is a wolf trapper and is gone for long periods of time.

Kestrel is unique. You see, each person eventually is hunted down by a beast of a thing. They are called grabbers. Kestrel is able to kill them, but she’s never been able to kill them before they’ve grabbed and devoured the person, only after.

I couldn’t put this book down. Between wanting to know what the grabbers were, wanting to know if there was in fact something beyond the woods and intrigued as Kestrel tries to remember events of her life, I was hooked.

This was such a great book that before I was finished, I’d already ordered Salter’s other book “The Bone Snatcher.”

If you have a young reader in your life, this is such a great book to introduce them to so many concepts within the darker genres. The bonus here is that there is no swearing and no sex, so for that 10 year old to 13 year old group, I suspect that is something parents are looking for.

I loved this book and I’m so glad I buddy read this with Jen!

5 Stars!


Researching Ritual and COMMUNION

By now, you’ve probably seen the cover for COMMUNION.

Big thanks to Gavin at Kendall Reviews for sharing it with the world for the reveal this past week.

For those that missed it, VOILA

Communion Cover

Once again, Mason McDonald delivered a stunning cover and one that both relates back to the bleakness of the cover for Ritual, but also gives you an idea of the direction this sequel takes.

As I said in the cover reveal post, the ebook will again be $0.99 to match Ritual. I don’t have a confirmed release date yet, but will keep you posted!

Recently, on my private readers group on Facebook (if you are on Facebook, come, join the fun! I asked what people wanted to see/what questions they had. Author Eleanor Merry (Dead Awake series) said she’d love to see what dark areas of the web I entered while researching Ritual and COMMUNION.

I posted the following on that page, but now want to share it with you all!

I think a lot of people who have read Ritual and those who have now read COMMUNION in beta form do have some questions about the background of these two reads for two reasons; A) they are quite graphic and B) they’ve started to connect some dots.

I’m going to try and keep this as spoiler free as possible for those who have not read either, but mostly for those who have read Ritual and are intrigued with COMMUNION. There is a third book coming and I will mention one brief moment related to Book Three, but I can promise it is not a spoiler.

The novella has a singular focus – told through two converging characters. Brad – the chosen one, aka Mr. Boring. When I wrote this piece, I wanted the mundane nature of Brad’s daily life to really create this sense of ‘hey, I know this guy.’ I find this is the frequent narrative of horrible news. Someone does something and the neighbours and co-workers always say ‘he just seemed like a normal guy.’ I find this to be a very frequent theme within organized religion. Now, I will say – I won’t bash religion here, and truthfully, I don’t believe Ritual or COMMUNION do in fact bash religion. I think both are more a discussion on the zealot level some become. Which leads us to the 2nd converging character – Father. Father is a true leader of a cult. He commands power, has charisma and charm and believes he will ascend to the chosen place – in this fictional world, that place is the Black Heavens.

So, to start with, let’s discuss three pieces of stuff here – Abaddon, Sheol and the Black Heavens.


(Apollyon aka Abaddon)

Abaddon and Sheol are both entities as well as places. Abaddon is referred to as the King of an Army of Locusts, as well as The Angel of Death and the Destroyer.  He is also known as Apollyon. Abaddon is also referred to as Doom or a bottomless pit.

Sheol is referred to as the darkness where spirits are kept, or the underworld. Some refer to Sheol as Hades itself. Sheol has also been referenced as an underworld Deity similar to Nergal.


(Sheol as defined as a place)

The Black Heavens is a completely fictional place that I’ve created for this trilogy. It is loosely based off of a theory known as Chaosophy. This was something propagated by a Swedish cult known as Misanthropic Luciferian Order (MLO). Now, I just want to interject – if you google MLO – be warned that they have some horrific ideals that do not fall in line with my personal beliefs. MLO is now known as Temple of the Black Light. The most famous member of MLO was Jon Nödtveidt of the band Dissection. Jon killed himself in 2006 by self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was found in a circle of candles and conspiracy folks (aided by interview quotes from Jon’s brother) have said that Jon followed a Ritual to ascend. Through MLO they’ve decreed this Chaosophy which doesn’t follow the biblical creation theory but instead follows what they’ve labelled Liber Azerate – creation through chaos.

“In the beginning, there was nothing but the energy of Chaos. Absu and Tiamat slept, and dreamed their darkest dreams. And all was good until their dark dreams began to spawn the cosmic gods.”

Liber Azerate is also a grimoire created by MLO aka TotBL which describes Azerate specifically as “the hidden name of the “eleven anti-cosmic gods.” See where this is going? Two of those anti-cosmic gods are listed as Abbadon and Sheol.

Dissection’s album ‘Reinkaos.’ The lyrics and music were written and created specifically in line with MLO tenets and designed to invoke the anti-cosmic gods.

So, with Ritual and Father specifically, in order to ascend to the Black Heavens to live forever/achieve immortality, Father must work with Sheol and Abaddon to complete the Ritual and Father and his followers will live forever in the chaos of cosmic time.

Now, let’s chat a bit about Father and the complex. I think for most people the most famous occultist of all is Aleister Crowley.

Crowley loosely inspired Father based on a few things. While Crowley was a known drug user and wanted to expand his mind and attempt to open up all of the worlds available to him, I’ve kept Father as a straight forward “preacher” figure. He shuns drugs, shuns fornication with women and is focused solely on the singular desire to achieve immortality. Like Crowley though, Father has a penchant for males and in order to relieve some of his anger and frustrations, Father has decided Brad aka the chosen one, as his outlet. I used this relationship as a way to create a despicable abuser, one who is seen as horrific by Brad but revered by the flock.

This theme will play out a bit more in COMMUNION.

Crowley developed his beliefs of Thelema when he wrote “The Book of the Law” in 1904. Crowley also owned The Abbey of Thelema in Italy, which was my inspiration for the complex in Ritual. Preacher’s Rock is a fictional structure/formation that I used to act as a way for Father to physically move closer to the cosmos.

(Outside of The Abbey of Thelema on the left, inside of a room on the right.)


(Artwork and graffiti adorning wall in The Abbey of Thelema.)

One of the frequent Thelema and Chaosophy features is the usage of the number 11. This does creep up within Ritual and COMMUNION but will feature more prominently in book three.

There you have it. A slightly deeper dive into both Ritual and COMMUNION. I have attached some pictures of Abaddon, Sheol and The Abbey of Thelema. I found these pictures through deeper dives into the stuff I’ve mentioned here, but they are also easily found on Google and through Wikipedia.

Wound Upon Wound

I did a surprise cover reveal for my serial novella Wound Upon Wound in my Instagram stories as well this week. Mason once again created a great piece!

Wound Upon Wound Temp Cover

Chapter Four is now live and as I said previously, once this story ends it will be available as a free ebook and a paperback version for as cheap as I can make it!

You can read the latest chapter or catch up on the full story so far here;

New chapter next Friday!

That’s all I got for this week!

I’ll see you next week with some more writing news!


A few titles I’m excited for!

Hello and greetings humans of the world!

It is I, El-Stevo, sent back from the future to share with you some books you should be very excited about. These books will be arriving in the coming days, weeks, and months and for a variety of reasons – El-Stevo believes you should El-reado them!

So, please ensure your seat belt has been done up and cinched tight, time travel can be bumpy!

Borne of the Deep: Salem Hawley Book Two – Michael Patrick Hicks

This is correct. Book two is coming and from MPH himself, it is looking like an April arrival! I finished reading an ARC just a few days ago and this thing hums along and then deposits grotesqueness galore into your brain tissue. Loved it!

Cover art will once again be done by Kealan Patrick Burke! Can’t wait to see this!

If you haven’t read book one The Resurrectionists, I suggest you catch up!

Hairspray and Switchblades (Rewind or Die! Book 5) – V. Castro

That’s right! V returns to deliver some hot and spicy horror. I loved her novel Maria: Most Wanted (still hoping we see another release in that world soon!), but while we wait for that – Hairspray and Switchblades is now up for pre-order, release date February 20, 2020


Food Fright (Rewind or Die! Book 7) – Nico Bell

Speaking of the Rewind or Die! Series, here is another one I’m excited for!

I’ve interacted a bunch with Nico on the various socials and she’s kindly read and reviewed some of my work! She’s a frequent contributor to Sci Fi & Scary and now – she has her very own Rewind or Die! release! How awesome!

This is up for preorder and arrives to kick your face in on March 26, 2020


Sole Survivor (Rewind or Die! Book 6) – Zachary Ashford

OH DAMN SON! Another Rewind or Die! Yup! El-Stevo says you should read all of this series from Unnerving! I’ve had the pleasure of reading a few shorts from Ashford as well as his Short Sharp Shocks! release through Demain, so I’m really looking forward to this one as well!

It is up for preorder and also drops into your eye balls on March 26, 2020


Dead Girl Blues – David Sodergren

I had the honour of finally gaining David’s trust enough to finally beta read one of his books! Ha! If the name sounds familiar – Sodergren has become my go to for copy editing/line editing as well as a good friend. If that doesn’t ring your bell – paperbacksandpugs should. Boris is probably more recognizable than Sods is by now.

Well, Dead Girl Blues is money. Start to finish, it flew along and delivered everything you expect in a Sodergren release.

Haven’t read him yet? Definitely get on that!

Why not start here?


Return to the Black Gate – Joseph Sale

Joseph Sale has fast become one of my favourite authors. I had the pleasure of beta-reading Beyond the Black Gate – Book Two in the Black Gate Trilogy. At that point, it was simply the sequel to Gods of the Black Gate. Myself and a gaggle of like minded folks begged and pleaded for Sale to wrap up the arc with a trilogy and here we have it! Peer pressure has come through!

Details are sparce – I have a digital ARC on my Kindle to dive in to shortly, so I can’t confirm a release date – but have a read at the link below to know just what the hell you are getting into!

Juniper – Ross Jeffery

Last but not least is Juniper by Ross Jeffery. Another book I had the pleasure of reading, Ross delivers a really awesome post-apocalyptic story. I had a blast and I think you will as well!

Up for pre-order now, this will devastate the world super powers on February 21, 2020



Let’s move on to three last bits!


COMMUNION is completedeedddddd ishhh. I have my almost done book out to beta’s. I saw almost done as there are two sections I have been pondering since I sent the beta ARC’s and already someone has messaged me about the first part. So – I’ll be tweaking that.

As for the cover – a full reveal will be coming on Kendall Reviews soon!

If you are excited for COMMUNION but haven’t read RITUAL yet – get on it! The ebook is and forever will be $0.99 and it is available as a paperback as well!

Dive in and find out why six people so far rate this a 1 star!



The Window in the Ground

The Window in the Ground cover

You remember this beauty? No? Well, get excited. I’m just about finished my last go through before it goes off to the editor. As is now, look for this to come out around Summer 2020 through The Writing Collective!

Wound Upon Wound

Are you following my weekly serial novella? Wound Upon Wound follows Ash and her little brother Caleb. Haven’t read anything yet? Well, every Friday a new chapter is uploaded;


OK, last bit here. I said I’d share some music in my last post in my next post.

So here’s some good tunes;

Checkmate – Lamb of God

DAMN RIGHTS! A new LoG album is dropping in May and here is there new song! What do you think? Dig it? Nah? Let me know!


Treasonous – Bloodbath

I’ve been listening to the ever loving hell out of The Fathomless Mastery album lately by Bloodbath. As my boy Glenn Parker said in a message – this is a tough sounding album. Sure is.


Kuaga (Lost Time) – Pierce Fulton

You know I love my happy EDM! So here is a song I love and dig.


All You Need to Know – Gryffin & Slander

God, I love this tune. It’s like if Above & Beyond wrote a song for someone else! I’ve shared it before but I hear it all the time and it’s just phenomenal.


What’s Up?

Life has been hectic. Currently Mr. Man is in a full on Komodo Dragon phase and god those animals are fantastic and the things of nightmares!

I hope the start of 2020 has treated you all well!