||Old Line Publishing
||September 27, 2011
Ronnie Toll sees monsters that nobody else can.
Barnes & Noble.com
Barnes and Noble
Ronnie Toll has never played with other kids. He's never slept soundly throughout the night, turned a corner without checking first, or laughed for the sake of laughing. All Ronnie knows is a world of shadows and monsters. His mother and father, Marion and Leon, are the only ones by his side. But all that is about to change when his mother is murdered by the monsters that only he can see. With his only safe haven crumbling around him, Ronnie becomes a poacher for the other side to help protect human civilization as he knows it. The problem is, he’s taking on more than he bargained for when he tangles with creatures that are larger than life—and himself.
“There is something wrong with him,” his mother said softly from beyond his door.
“No, there isn’t,” replied his father. “He’s just being a little kid. All of them are like that.”
“They aren’t,” his mother argued.
A strange silence pierced the room where eight-year-old Ronnie Cane was supposed to be sleeping, but the real truth of the matter was that he wasn’t—not even close, in fact. Today he had another accident again. It wasn’t the go-potty-in-your-pants kind of problem, nor was it a fight. Instead Ronnie had been found sobbing in the bathroom two hours earlier, trying to escape the dark, scary thing that had been on his wall.
Ever since he was born, he had been consumed by problems of a similar kind. When he was a newborn, his parents said that he would scream for hours and hours inside of his crib regardless of what they did to comfort him. As the years went on, he was plagued with night terrors and the usual childish fear of the dark. What made him different from other kids, though, was that the monster in his closet wasn’t some imaginary phantom that he had dreamed about. He could see the shadow creatures around him and describe them in detail so intricate that it often drove his mother to tears.
From outside his room, he heard a light creak of the hallway and saw that his bedroom door was slowly being opened. Hastily he shut his eyes, pretending to be asleep to soothe his constantly worrying father, Leon. His mother, Marian, was prone to being easily upset, a young parent that had dropped out of high school to give birth to him. Though he didn’t know what it meant, people often informed Leon that he had robbed the cradle. At least, that was what Ronnie’s grandmother always said.
As the sound of footsteps carried off down the hall, he immediately sat up and focused on the ceiling of his room. A dark shadow was already beginning to form at the base of his light, which then worked its way down a nearby wall. For a moment he heard the hiss that came with someone’s breathing, then he shivered as the room grew devastatingly cold. Above him, a man of blackness was suspended in midair that he could clearly see. It was a shadow of someone that was invisible.
‘Ronnie,’ said a voice so chilling that it hurt his heart. ‘Ronnie.’
Ronnie burrowed himself deep within his pillows, listening to what sounded like a chorus made only of his name. More than anything else, he wanted it to go away. As he delved deeper into his bed sheets, he felt a hand touch his back, which then ran its way down his side tauntingly. He did his best to ignore it, but he felt vulnerable and sick all at the same time.
As the hand continued its fear making, he felt urine dribble down his legs as he wet the bed. ‘It followed me,’ he thought. ‘It’s that scary monster that I saw in the store. It followed me.’ With a squeaky scream, he jumped up from the bed. The figure was still on the ceiling as if he was accompanied by an invisible person. His heart leapt out of his chest as an upheaval of stomach acid waged a war on his throat.
This wasn’t like some videogame or television program that he could merely turnoff. The way his heart felt was real, and it was enough to entice him to vomit all over his sheets. Instead he compromised by leaping out of the bed. As he did so, he felt air lift up the sweaty hair on the back of his neck, which caused him to whimper slightly.
He caught sight of his own terrified reflection in the mirror hanging on his wall, which brought him to a pause because he suddenly remembered that he was not supposed to leave his room unaccompanied. As an alternative for running away, he breathed and studied his reflection, doing his best to calm down.
For an eight-year-old he was overly skinny, and he had dark hair with a reddish sheen that was almost always messed up. His eyes were a very deep brown that had hardly any alternate color in them at all, which made them stand out from his pale face. There were freckles along his button nose that his mother called love spots—the more someone had, the more they were loved.
He shivered as he peered at himself, growing steadily more frightened by the second as he felt the figure approach him again. His focus changed from his own reflection to that of the shadow man’s. ‘It’s breathing on me,’ he thought wildly. ‘The monster is breathing on me.’
For a moment he contemplated running out of the house screaming, but he recalled his mother’s words from mere minutes before: “There is something wrong with him.” Even as he sprung open the door and headed out of his room, the inner controversy between his fear and his mother’s opinion of him continued. As he proceeded down the stairs, he didn’t even bother to check whether or not the monster was following him.
He paused briefly to jump at the doorknob—as it was too tall for his short body—unlocking it and running into the rain that had been pouring outside the house for hours now. His whole body burned, since he had no shoes, jacket, or umbrella. It was mid-October, the temperature dropping dangerously low for an unshielded person.
Their family home was separated from the town by a thick expanse of well placed woods. It was a small abode, painted a cheerful yellow with white shutters, that looked as safe as a warm hug. Ronnie was the only one that truly knew the evil within, and as he fled from the house and into the safety of the forest, fear jumped up his spine once more. The trees, with their welcoming branches, had tricked him—it wasn’t safe out here either.
As his fragile, shoeless feet pounded against the ground until they bled, he continued through the forest. It was only as he stumbled to a stop a half an hour later that he realized that he was desperately and completely lost. The trees gave him little protection from the whipping wind that rushed through their leaves, and he shivered as he stood by a large oak’s trunk, trying to protect himself from the pounding weather. Every once in awhile the sky would light up a vivid white from the powerful lightning, and Ronnie would squeak before hiding his head in his hands.
As he exhaled white mist, he checked his surroundings before concealing his face again. The monster may or may not have come after him. He had no idea how much time had passed, but he began to feel numbness sink into his thin, superhero adorned pajamas as he stood there all alone. Suddenly he felt a thick and heavy hand grasp his shoulder, making him let out a scream of terror that cut through the air. Thunder crashed through the night as if in response to Ronnie’s wail.
“Ronnie!” a familiar voice cried. “Ronnie, are you okay!?”
His father stood in front of him, arms outstretched and opened wide. It was obvious that Leon had been searching in the rain for quite some time, because he too was soaked to the bone in his plaid pajama set. Ronnie let out a sob of despair, falling into his father’s widespread arms, smelling the rain on Leon’s body as he was kissed and hugged desperately amongst the trees.
“Dad, a monster was there,” Ronnie sobbed. “It was there. It wanted me.”
“Okay,” Leon soothed, stroking Ronnie’s unusual hair. “Let’s just get you back inside, alright?”
Judging by the look on Leon’s face, Ronnie knew that he had just proved his mother’s point. Ronnie gulped, shivering even more as he was led by the hand to their yellow cottage. At that moment, he wondered whether there would ever come a time when he would truly feel safe.
A young child is plagued by visions of monsters that his parents think are in the realm of a child's imagination. But, are they? Seeing visions of a black figure on his room at night and hearing the voice leading him down a strange and scary path, young Ronnie often leaves his room in search of the safety of his parents who think he is just imagining things or that he has a serious illness. After many episodes and many tests the doctors prescribe some heavy medications to try and alleviate what this child has seen. With parents that are relatively supportive but do not quite believe him life is difficult for this young man. Then, things get worse as his mother becomes ill and vision he encounters would explain his mission and how he alone could save her. Just what that is you won't believe and what other worlds this young man will enter still remain to be seen as I review Poachers by author Stephanie Campbell.
Ronnie tormented by adults, kids in school and monsters that appear to him at any time. Caring for his mother he is taken in by a ghostly figure who encourages him to bring her a necklace in exchange for a green orange whose juice when sprayed over his mother would cure her illness. Naïve, thinking that this creature was telling him the truth he takes the green orange and sprays it over his mother and she dies. But, when he awakens later his father relates an entirely different story that exonerates him from the murder and stating she committed suicide or did she? Added to that he gained new respect from the kids in middle school when he beats up the captain of the football team and decided to fight back when approached by five kids in dark cemetery. Just what really did happen to his mother and what will Ronnie do next you just won't believe.
What would you do if you could see things not as others do but as they really are? What would you do if everyone thought you were crazy and you knew you were not? What happens when one young man is forced to endure too many tests, doctors, tormented by visions of figures that are half human and half creature and no one would believe him? What happens when this same young man learns he was tricked by one of these creatures from the other realm and the end result was tragic? A lone girl, or was she created an illusion so that Ronnie would part with a valued possession and she could lure him into committing a crime. Revenge is not always sweet and cannot bring back his mother but Ronnie does retrieve his necklace and after his encounter with this creature he finds himself a whole other person. Able to see things that others cannot and cured from his mental illness, Ronnie will now follow a path totally different to avenge his mothers death and much more.
Someone who illegally kills or hunts wild animals is called a poacher. What are they called if they hunt humans? Hunting animals might be illegal but in some cases hunters do not need permits to hunt certain animals. Poachers will hunt and kill animals that are protected as an endangered species. But, what happens when one young man decides to join forces with this group, become a poacher and go after those responsible for his mother's death. Poachers target any type of animal or in this case people. Going off to the other realm Ronnie will face demons and monsters and his own inner self. Ronnie decides to become a poacher hoping to protect humankind.
As Ronnie finds himself in difficult situations and uses his skills to take down a dangerous bird, finds a dog that only he can see and fights demons in order to avenge his mother's death an odd occurrence will bring it all to light. One man named Lyle who seems to be following him and one dog named Pyro who is his protector and friend when his own father seems to have lost the luster for life and hope to survive. Alone most of the time and dealing with real demons and his own inner ones, Ronnie fights these monsters, sets traps for them and now one man just might change it all. Being able to see creatures in the alternate realm is not what most people would want to experience or endure. But, Ronnie can and Lyle being a Federal Society of Realm Informant for the Alternate Realm wants to enlist his help as Ronnie is already working independently as a poacher could this be why he wants him? Would he get paid to do this?
Plagued by his memory and guilt due to his mom's death Ronnie will stop at nothing to kill the monsters and demons responsible but he takes on much more along the way. All too often when a parent dies the other one falls prey to the wiles of others but in this case Leon, his father becomes despondent, distraught and abandons his son through his work and forgets about his own personal life nor does he pay any attention to Ronnie.
Imagine working as a Poacher for yourself and now being hired by our government to do the same job for a salary of six figures. But, what they never told Ronnie, because he might have given it more than just a second thought, is that he was putting more than just his own life on the line and that the end result might be more devastating than hunting and killing these monsters. One monster that started a chain reaction in his life and no one knows where it will lead. One young man haunted by the memory and guilt of his mother's death and aims to get the one responsible and rid the world of the monsters that would kill others. Two monsters at the head of their realm. One young man sent to get them. What will the end result be and is Ronnie up to the task? Trust is something he does not have even for his own father at this point. One dog named Pyro who only he can see. One dog that protects him and is truly loyal.
As Ronnie is sent off in a mission to rid a family of monsters that are supposedly plaguing them and their business he meets a young woman/AKA/ Fury that changes his perspective on things and helps him to realize as in real life, the government does not always play by the rules we think they should and once again he is tricked and his life is in danger. So, who is this Fury named Claudia and what about his new human partner named Fred? What was really behind this mission and what are they trying to steal from Ronnie that he needs to do his job and they find so valuable? Betrayals, deceits, distrust, friendships gained and loyalties renewed, this book gives the reader much pause for thought as Ronnie has become a Poacher joining not only the government's group of Poachers but others too.
As all of the forces come together and meet what will happen when the truth behind the mission, the government's plans and the deceits come to light. What will finally happen to Ronnie, Pryo and one Fury named Claudia that risked everything for the sake of humankind and much more. ? Will Ronnie avenge his mother's death? Will the Campe get what she deserves? Will the shadow's meaning finally come to light for him and will he realize why he was given the sight to start with? Who lives? Who dies? Will the war between the humans and the monsters ever end? Human nature, you know what that means so you know the answers to these questions will be solved and much more for the reader when you read Poachers.
Author Stephanie Campbell brings to light many important issues that we all face today. Trusting our own instincts, faith in those we love and hope won't betray us, friendships and bonds formed in unlikely places and one world that should be able to hold everyone maybe even creatures. What does the world and fate have in store for Ronnie? Only time will tell and of course if the author writes a sequel. This is one ending you won't see coming and one story that you will want to read and never forget. Fast paced, easy read and really quite thought provoking. One young author, one outstanding novel. Sometimes dreams become realities. Find out what that means. Read this Five Star Book.
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