Author: Susanna Hays
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: September 21, 2015
Genre(s): Paranormal, Suspense
Page Count: 156
Reviewed by: Kristin
Heat Level: 1 flames out of 5
Rating: 2 stars out of 5
Yori Tanaka lives with crippling anxiety, knowing he carries the “Beast Syndrome” gene yet still unsure what activates it. Thankfully, his boyfriend, Bryce Green, is down to earth and has been more than patient and supportive for the last five years.
But their lives are about to change. When Lance Haney, an old friend, rolls into town, Yori is excited to see him at first—until Yori learns Lance’s motives. Full of malice and bad intentions, Lance plans to activate Yori’s “Beast Syndrome” gene, and Yori’s greatest fear is about to become a reality.
According to the above, Stalked should have had all the components I like in a book: shifters ala “beast syndrome”, urban fantasy, thriller, and m/m romance. Yet somehow the book missed the mark and I completely bounced off the story.
My concerns: book opens with Yori, in the middle of a full-blown panic attack during his first week of college, and crashing headlong into Bryce. Next chapter it was five years later, Bryce and Yori are still together, Yori’s changed majors from engineering to graphic design, he’s working in a thrift store while Bryce supports them with his nursing degree. Bryce wants to get married. Umm…what happened to the five years in between?
The town Bryce and Yori are living in comes under threat of a brutal murderer targeting young Asian men. Despite repeated assurances that our characters don’t live in or near the “red zone”, I never really got a feel for where this “red zone” was nor how big. What made it a “red zone”? Could you get the beast syndrome from being in proximity of the red zone?
I felt Yori’s anxiety issues and constant panic attacks were too much and left me irritated with what should have been a sympathetic character. Combined with Bryce’s insistence of marriage when what Yori needed was therapy completely put me off.
The protagonist, Lance, suddenly appears with the declaration that he’s going to kill Yori to activate Yori’s “beast syndrome” and make him join the other shifters. Seriously? Past friend/boyfriend pops up and the first words are, “I’m going to kill you.”? Then Lance admits he’s been the one killing the Asian men, describing to Yori how he plays with his victims before murdering them, and how Yori will enjoy this when Lance activates his beast syndrome. If you are trying to talk someone already paranoid into running away with you, this seems like the wrong way to go about it. Just sayin’.
And then there is Glen, who befriends Yori and starts copying everything about Yori – from his hair, the way Yori dresses, his food, the games and movies he likes, and where he works. Weird and he never really tied into the rest of the book.
Stalked could have used more world building incorporating some background info of the beast syndrome and the lost five years, more character building to flesh out all the characters and their relationship(s), and less emphasis on anxiety attacks to give the whole book a sense of balance and structure.
Overall, Stalked wasn’t my cuppa tea. But if you like short novels in a shifter/thriller/horror genre, perhaps it will appeal to you.