Review: Riapoke by Bryan Nowak

Controlled by a demon, a town institutionalizes serial killing to free an evil trapped beneath its surface. A suspenseful, paranormal thriller

Title: Riapoke

Subtitle: Controlled by a demon, a town institutionalizes serial killing to free an evil trapped beneath its surface. A suspenseful, paranormal thriller

Author: Bryan Nowak

Genre: Paranormal Thriller, Suspense

Year of Publication: 2017

Self-Published

Rating: 3/5 stars

I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book so I could give an honest review. Thank you, Bryan Nowak, for sending me this book!

“Just be careful up that way. On the other side of the lake, there is a little town called Riapoke. I’d steer clear of it. They are not particularly friendly to strangers up that way. (…) Just stick to the resort while you’re up there and you’ll be fine.” (p. 17-18)

Meghan Johnston and her seventeen-year-old son Kyle go on a trip before the boy leaves for college, in order to spend some quality time together. They drive to Hideaway Resort, a secluded resort in the Virginian wilderness, but along the way, they hear some strange stories about Riapoke, a small town on the other side of Lake Oleander and the mysterious disappearances that took place there. What will this mother-son vacation have in store for them? Will they listen to the warnings and stay away from the obscure town on the other side of the lake? Read and you will find out.

Meghan Johnston has been separated from her husband for twelve years; therefore she became the overprotective parent who suffocates her child with love. Kyle, on the other hand, loves being spoiled by Meghan, but he is a teenager now who needs independence in order to explore the world around him and to date girls. Therefore; it’s not hard to imagine that the boy is not too thrilled about this trip, but their adventure in the quaint town of Riaopke will certainly be an experience neither of them will forget. This journey will help both mother and son to strengthen their relationship and teach Kyle to become a responsible person.

There are some important characters in this story, but the most intriguing one is Reverend Donny Swenson is the Head of Riapoke, of the Church of the Master and anything you can think of because he controls the entire town, perform the sacrifices for the Master and manipulates the whole community to get what he or the Master wants. This character will give you the creeps for sure because he does disturbing stuff an ordinary priest would never do. At first glance, you might think that Donny is a kind and hospitable person, but when you fall into his trap, you realise that it’s too late to escape your fate. However, his intentions don’t lack reasoning and motivation because there is a prophecy he is eager to fulfil both for himself and the Master and it seems that Meghan and Kyle have the profile of the two people the prophecy talks about. Furthermore, the reverend is the only one who can communicate directly with the strange creature and can appease it because Donny’s office is connected to the underground cave in which the Master dwells and awaits its next victims

The place is more like a cult compound than a town. The whole shebang is run by a guy named Reverend Donny Swenson. He’s literally the head honcho of everything around here. He’s in charge of the police, fire department, garbage, even controls the local school board.” (p. 99)

The idea of a secluded town that institutionalized serial killing is very intriguing for a reader who enjoys thrillers, but I felt pretty detached from the story whether it’s because of the characters I couldn’t warm up to or the overall plot which didn’t always grip me. However, this doesn’t mean that the book is bad, but it was just not my cup of tea. While I was exploring this thriller, I realised that I don’t particularly enjoy reading about strange cults and human sacrifice. On a more deeper level, this book questions religion authority/power and manipulation in a secretive and secluded town, good and evil, the importance of having a family who should be bound by love, redemption, (lack of ) humanity and many more.

Riapoke has plenty gruesome scenes; therefore it’s not advisable to be read by a younger audience. The story is told from multiple perspectives (Carl, Waylon Anderson, Meghan, Donny, Matthew and Mike), which help you understand the plot better. I didn’t have a favourite character or scene, but the last quarter of the book was really dynamic and intense, while the ending turned the whole story on its head.

 If you love paranormal more than I do, you might enjoy this book, so pick it up if you are interested.

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