Some truths are better kept secret.
Some secrets are better off dead.
Along the banks of the Bogue Falaya River, sits the abandoned St. Francis Seminary. Beneath a canopy of oaks, blocked from prying eyes, the teens of St. Benedict High gather here on Fridays. The rest of the week belongs to school and family—but weekends belong to the river.
And the river belongs to Beau Devereaux.
The only child of a powerful family, Beau can do no wrong. Handsome. Charming. Intelligent. The star quarterback of the football team. The “prince” of St. Benedict is the ultimate catch.
He is also a psychopath.
A dirty family secret buried for years, Beau’s evil grows unchecked. In the shadows of the ruined St. Francis Abbey, he commits unspeakable acts on his victims and ensures their silence with threats and intimidation. Senior year, Beau sets his sights on his girlfriend’s headstrong twin sister, Leslie, who hates him. Everything he wants but cannot have, she will be his ultimate prize.
As the victim toll mounts, it becomes crystal clear that someone has to stop Beau Devereaux.
And that someone will pay with their life.
WARNING: Readers of Death by the River will encounter situations of violence and sexual abuse which could be upsetting.
Even though the synopsis has a trigger warning, I want to emphasize it here. Even though the characters in this book are technically in high school, this book deals with some very dark issues. This is DEFINITELY not a YA novel. This has graphic depictions of sexual assault and abuse. I will be discussing these depictions to some extent in this review. That being said, if you feel that you can handle this, then read on.
This book is told from multiple points of view. The three main viewpoints are Beau Devereaux, Leslie, and Dawn, Leslie’s twin sister and Beau’s girlfriend. This is definitely the best way to tell this story, as the readers are able to see what Beau is thinking, and then compare it to how close the other characters are to solving the mystery. You are left in the dark about certain things, but you aren’t left in the dark about everything. This also allows you to see what the twins are thinking as they fight with each other.
Beau’s point of view was a bit skewed to me. He viewed himself as a victim, and there was a storyline about him trying to fight to follow his dreams and not join the family business. I wasn’t sure whether to feel bad for him or not, given the type of person he was. It also made it clear that he suffered from some sort of mental illness, and while it is debatable to make the “villain” have a mental illness, it sort of worked to make the story seem like it was set in the real world.
Now onto the gritty stuff. I was definitely not expecting the sexual violence scenes to be so graphic. There’s one scene that happens within the first 20% of the book, so it isn’t even a spoiler. It is told from Beau’s point of view, and you only saw the effect on the girl after the fact from the point of view of other characters who talk to her. Even as a person who doesn’t consider herself to be easily affected by scenes in books, I had to skim through these parts. They were simply too graphic for me to read. For the most part, since I didn’t harp on these scenes, I still thought that it was an excellent horror thriller.
This book does raise important issues about how abusers start. Leslie is verbally harassed by Beau throughout the entire novel, and her boyfriend knows about it, but nothing would have really been done if they had tried to report Beau. If Beau had gotten in trouble at the start of the novel, he wouldn’t have had the chance to hurt anyone else.
The other parts of the story were addictive, and I couldn’t put the story down once I started to read it. I thought that the very end of the book seemed to be a bit rushed, but the build-up to the climax was well-paced, and the events immediately after the climax were well-paced.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for an adult horror novel but who isn’t affected by graphic sexual violence scenes.
I received an advance copy of this novel and this is my voluntary review.
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Praise for DEATH BY THE RIVER
“… a thrilling psychological work … Catching the current vogue of teen psycho and revenge tales like Bates Motel and 13 Reasons Why … a horrifically brilliant book … Beau Devereaux could have easily been a clichéd psycho, but the plot constructed around him and his development during the novel really shone as a masterpiece of character creation … much in the style of Dexter or Hannibal.” ―K.C. Finn, Multi-Award-Winning Author
“Rare is the story that simmers and rises to a boil so naturally and constantly that the reader manages to be repeatedly shocked … a full-speed rollercoaster that doesn’t slow down until the final page. Employing an evocative setting, powerfully defined characters, and taking along hard look at the darker side of human desire, this novel will catch your breath and hold it until the very end. RECOMMENDED” ―Michael Radon, US Review
“While the authors have written a chilling story here, there’s more to Death by the River than thrills. It’s actually a fascinating study into the effects of good and bad parenting on children. Do it badly and parents, children and society as a whole pay the consequences. This book is not just an exciting read; it’s a sobering one.” ―Viga Boland, Retired high school English teacher and Author of No Tears for my Father: Viga’s true story of incest
“While the story follows compelling characters, it also plunges readers into an intriguing setting. It is ironical that the horrors are taking place along the river that runs so close to a seminary, an establishment that should evoke a powerful sense of God and reverence for life. The characters are sophisticated and readers will learn to honestly hate the villain of the story — he is well imagined and developed with skill. In a subtle way, the authors allow his crooked mind to reveal itself. Like most serial killers, he is a charmer and an intelligent young man, but beneath the cool surface is a cauldron of simmering evil. Weis and Astor have written a riveting crime tale with strong psychological underpinnings. Death by the River is ingeniously plotted, written in gorgeous prose, and featuring a strong conflict that propels the narrative forward. The suspense intensifies as the story moves on, with the reader always feeling as though something awful could happen at any moment, and this feeling grows in intensity until the explosive climax. A real thriller!” ―Romuald Dzemo, Readers’ Favorite
“A suspense-filled thriller steeped in equal parts atmosphere, insanity, and revenge.” ―Mary Ting, Award-Winning Author of ISAN: International Sensory Assassin Network
“Weis and Astor have created something so dark, edgy, and gritty, it will stay with you long after you close the book.” ―Julieanne Lynch, Dragon Award Finalist: Horror (2018)
“… a crime thriller that pulls readers into the twisted mind of the protagonist and holds them engaged till the exhilarating finish. The writing is flawless … Death by the River is psychologically engaging, emotionally rich, and utterly absorbing.” ―Christian Sia
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Alexandrea Weis, RN-CS, CRRN, ONC, PhD, is a multi award-winning author of over twenty-five novels, a screenwriter, ICU Nurse, and historian who was born and raised in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Having grown up in the motion picture industry as the daughter of a director, she learned to tell stories from a different perspective and began writing at the age of eight. Infusing the rich tapestry of her hometown into her novels, she believes that creating vivid characters makes a story moving and memorable. A permitted/certified wildlife rehabber with the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries, Weis rescues orphaned and injured animals. She lives with her husband and pets in New Orleans. Weis writes paranormal, suspense, thrillers, horror, crime fiction, and romance.
Lucas Astor, Lucas Astor is from New York, has resided in Central America and the Middle East, and traveled through Europe. He lives a very private, virtually reclusive lifestyle, preferring to spend time with a close-knit group of friends than be in the spotlight. He is an author and poet with a penchant for telling stories that delve into the dark side of the human psyche. He likes to explore the evil that exists, not just in the world, but right next door behind a smiling face.
Weis and Astor’s first collaboration was the multi-award-winning Magnus Blackwell Series.
PHOTO CONTENT FROM ALEXANDREA WEIS AND LUCAS ASTOR
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ENDS: NOVEMBER 12, 2018