Friday, March 1, 2013

Black Hat / Kayla Al-Shamma-Jones

Reviewed by: Keith Nixon

Genre: Horror

Approximate word count: 25-30,000 words

Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: NO  Smashwords: NO  Paper: YES
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The author states that she was a pretty weird kid which is why she turned to writing. She studied at the University of California and now lives in LA. Black Hat is the prologue to the Raven Children series.

You can learn more about the author and her books at her website.


Maeve Schraeder is a top student, but she’s been struggling to make her grades recently. Her roommate offers her a study pill and it’s then she starts seeing a tall, bowler hat wearing man out of the corner of her eye. When she goes to sleep the Black Hat Man describes the unpleasant things he’s going to do to her.


This initially seemed to be a dark story of the perils of drugs and the mental anguish this can cause on yourself and others – demonstrated in the form of the Black Hat Man. Black Hat is listed in the horror genre. I didn’t find much, if anything, that could be described as more than mild until the final scenes. It’s comparatively tame throughout.

The writing is reasonable and there’s a decent internal / external interplay between Maeve and her subconscious. The characters also are reasonable, although I didn’t feel terribly engaged by any, as is the dialogue. On occasion, there were repeated words and some further editing would have been of benefit. For example when Maeve first encounters the Black Hat Man:

Maeve didn’t see his breath like she could see her breath in the cold morning air, and Maeve was pretty sure he wasn’t even breathing.

I struggled to stay engaged in Black Hat. In addition, I found the writing style sometimes dragged. Despite the relatively short length of the book scene descriptions were drawnout. This wasn’t helped by paragraphs that stretched over pages or sentences that ran and ran. Finally, at the conclusion Black Hat left a number of story lines hanging. This is a personal preference, I expect leaving some readers wanting more, others a little frustrated. I was in the latter camp.


Some adult language and occasional graphic horror descriptions.

Format/Typo Issues:


Rating: *** Three Stars

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