Thursday, April 10, 2014

"The Terminals" Blog Tour Review

Once again, I'm pleased to host a spot on the Tribute Books blog tour of Michael F. Stewart's forthcoming release The Terminals.  Previously I've read and reviewed the first two books in his Assured Destruction YA series and enjoyed them very much.  But today is different.  We walk down a dark and lonely lane into the underworld.  Join me as we journey.  No seriously - with this novel, I'd rather have company to face it together instead of alone.

Book Summary:
Sometimes the dead don’t want to talk.  You need Terminals to make them.

Terminals solve crimes in this realm by investigating them in the next.

Lt. Col. Christine Kurzow, fresh from a failed suicide attempt after she cost 11 of her soldiers their lives, is recruited into the covert unit of Terminals as a handler. It's an easy sell. If she's really determined to die, it’s a chance to give her death meaning.

But her first case—convincing a monk to chase Hillar the Killer into the afterlife to find the location of a missing bus and the children it carried—has her wondering how to make a dead psychopath talk.

Christine must follow the clues sent back by the shotgun-toting monk, who tracks Hillar through the seven deeps of hell, so she can find eleven kids before it’s too late.

Maybe this time killing a man will give Christine a reason to live.

My Review:
The Terminals is touted as a thriller, but it's by far more horror than thriller.  I don't like horror.  Don't do horror if I can help it.  I'm not a good judge of the genre.  It's disturbing on more levels than I can count (in Spanish, that is).  It's emotionally and even physically exhausting to read.  My imagination is too vivid.  Horror keeps me up at night, so I avoid it at all costs.

But lovers of the horror genre will absolutely flock to The Terminals.  In fact, I have a good friend who needs to read this ASAP (Brian, are you reading?  Are you reading, Brian?).

Christine is a colonel in the Army who, on more than one occasion, attempted suicide after she let her feminine side detract her while on a mission.  Eleven soldiers under her command died as a result of her inability to take out a suicide bomber - a child.  She doesn't suffer from PTSD, depression, or even survivors' guilt.  Just guilt, plain and simple, for reacting as a woman instead of a soldier in a combat situation.

Now she has a chance to restore balance by assisting in the rescue of eleven children kidnapped by a psychopath and his sidekick - one child for every one of her men.  All she has to do in this covert government project is agree to convince terminally ill patients to die a little sooner under her watch and to communicate back to Attila, the resident psychic, from whatever hell in which they find themselves.

When we first see Christine after she's stateside, she awakes in the terminals unit to three old farts, who are waiting for their turn to die, playing cards on her stomach as if its a table.  Cracked me up!  I thought it was also setting a tone with a little lighthearted humor.  Boy was I wrong!

Christine succeeds in convincing Charlie, a Gnostic monk who has inoperable cancer, to be a terminal in the program to track Hillar the Killer after he is shot dead in a police raid before they determine where he stashed the eleven kids.  They only have a few days in which to find the children left in the "care" of his sick accomplice.

And this is where the horror starts and never lets up.

Over and over again, we experience the traumatic and horrifying ways in which Charlie is "cleansed" as he passes through each level of his hell as he races after Hillar.  From having his flesh stripped away and his spine bent backward until it snaps, barbs sinking into his body and again ripping bits and pieces of him until he's nothing but bone or wolves eating his flesh and tearing him apart, to eating and eating and eating the putrid larvae of bat-type creatures before they can hatch and suck the marrow from his bones...  Ugh!  Please stop you say?  Glad to.

The hardest thing for me was reading the ways in which the children were tortured.  I'm a mother, for crying out loud!  I don't want to imagine what some psycho could possibly do to my little boy (who isn't so little anymore, but still).  I can't even bring myself to describe what happens to them.  If you are like me and have trouble with picturing children in such hands, you're going to have problems here too.

However, Michael Stewart knows how to write.  His manuscripts are structurally clean, have good point-of-view usage, and definitely show instead of tell (and show, and show, and show...).  Even though difficult for this reader, the descriptions are vivid and emotionally gripping.  You'll feel Christine's pain, Charlie's anguish, and be angered at the manner in which life is treated here.

So again, if you're like me and don't read horror, this Bud ain't for you.  But if you are a lover of the horror genre and enjoy the nausea of being creeped out, run out and grab a copy of The Terminals as soon as it is released.

But you can't say I didn't warn you!

Author Bio:

Michael F. Stewart is the author of the Assured Destruction series, which sprawls across 3 books, 2 websites, 1 blog, 7 Twitter accounts, tumblr, Facebook, and 6 graphic origin stories. He likes to combine storytelling with technology and pioneered interactive storytelling with Scholastic Canada, Australia and New Zealand’s, anti-cyberbullying program Bully For You. He has authored four graphic novels with Oxford University Press Canada’s award winning Boldprint series. Publications of nonfiction titles on Corruption and Children’s Rights published by Rubicon Publishing as well as early readers with Pearson are all forthcoming in 2014 and 2015.

For adults, Michael has written THE SAND DRAGON a horror about a revenant prehistoric vampire set in the tar sands, HURAKAN a Mayan themed thriller which pits the Maya against the MS-13 with a New York family stuck in the middle, 24 BONES an urban fantasy which draws from Egyptian myth, and THE TERMINALS—a covert government unit which solves crimes in this realm by investigating them in the next. This series has already been optioned for film and television.

Herder of four daughters, Michael lives to write in Ottawa where he runs free writing workshops for teens and adults.  Visit his website at

Format: ebook
Pages: 229
Release: 2014

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  1. Thank you so much for suffering through!! Sorry, but thank you too. Your review was very kind. :)

    1. Hey, they always say to make the bad stuff and bad guys REALLY bad when writing and this succeeded. Even though I don't like horror, I know those that do will really get some major goosebumps from this. Thanks for allowing me to participate in your tour once again!

  2. It says a lot that even though the material was challenging, you still enjoyed Michael's writing style! Thanks for the review, D A :)

    1. It's always fun to participate in a Tribute Books tour - even when the fun turns to nightmares. :-) Michael's a great writer in my book regardless of the genre.