Monday, December 29, 2014

Book Review: The Wanderers ( Book 1) By Jessica Miller

The Wanderer
Book 1
By Jessica Miller
Reviewed by Sandra Long

This novel starts off with a very strong first chapter. We immediately meet our leading character, Ella, as she is having one of her recurring nightmares about her high school graduation night She and he boyfriend, Kyle, had made plans to spend the weekend at his parents’ mountain cottage where she plans to give him her virginity. They have been planning this for some time so it is a very special night for them and they are very excited but also nervous and talk very little on the way up the mountain.

Suddenly a man appears out of nowhere and is in the middle of the road, Kyle swerves to miss him and the SUV flips over and goes skidding along the roadway. Shaken, but conscious, Ella gets out of the car and sees the man walking toward her but all she can see are his evil, demon-looking eyes shining in the dark. Too worried about Kyle to be really scared, she tries frantically to get him out of the car but can’t.

When she looks out again she sees a different man walking toward her. This man also has glowing eyes but somehow they look friendly and she thinks he will help her. He immediately slings her away from the SUV that almost instantly explodes into flames and she watches helplessly as Kyle burns to his death inside the SUV. She is alone—both men have vanished. Whenever she tries to tell anyone about them, they tell her that her rescuer was probably a local man who just didn’t want any recognition so left when he saw she was safe. She didn’t tell anyone about their glowing eyes, too afraid she will not be believed and people would call her crazy.

Ella spends the summer in therapy and staying at home with her family, her socialite mom, work-aholic dad and 2 older brothers. The family is very wealthy and seem to think throwing money at a problem will make it go away so Ella has the best therapist money can buy. Problem is Ella never tells the therapist or anyone else about the men with the glowing eyes or that they haunt her nightmares and sometimes even her waking hours. She can’t deny the nightmares because she wakes the entire family with her blood curdling screams.

Ella’s best friend, Josie, luckily is the daughter of her parents’ best friends, so they get a lot of time
together. Josie’s mother has a severe alcohol problem so Josie and her little brother Jake spend a lot of time at Ella’s house. This is true even when the two families go to their mountain cabins for some R & R as their cabins are not very far apart.

A weekend at the cabin sharing family time is the plan for the last weekend before Ella, Josie and Ella’s brother, Dean, all head to the East coast for college, all the way from California. A backyard cookout, then roasting marsh mellows over an open fire and telling campfire ghost stories before going to bed in their backyard tents is the teen agenda while the adults go inside after the meal for some “grown up time”. The kids are all having fun until a ghost story about a man with glowing eyes who kills and then keeps body parts of his victims starts to scare Jake. He falls asleep while being comforted and is put to bed in one of the tents hey had set up for the night, while the teens decide to go swimming in their underwear. When they finally freeze out of the water Jake is missing. After a scary and lengthy search they find him and he tells the he saw man with the glowing eyes in the woods and followed him to prove he was not scared. This really freaks out Ella because she thought she saw him several times following her but never told anyone, afraid she would be committed to a mental institution.

A weekend party at the cabin Ella was headed for when she and Kyle wrecked was something she
wanted to skip but felt she needed to face her demons. Kyle’s twin brother, Kevin, was hosting the
party, adding to the problem. Ella attended and survived the event and after talking with Kevin about what happened she learned that he blamed himself for Kyle’s death because he had forced him to switch weekends with him at the cabin. Kevin kissed her and brought flashbacks of Kyle, but also helped Ella find some closure. She and Josie left for college determined to start a fresh new part of her life.

Anyone who has ever gone away to college can relate to what happened to these two na├»ve girls their first week on campus. They were supposed to be in separate dorms on opposites of the campus but though some mix up Ella ended up with no roommate and Josie ended up with no room so after a phone call from daddy to the college, the girls ended up as roomies . They decide to explore and are deluged with the usual first week on campus rush—credit card offers, sorority offers, clubs to join, causes to volunteer for, parties to attend. They went back to their room a little overwhelmed but determined to fit in and have fun. First night they decided they would attend a party hosted by a fraternity who’s sister sorority had offered to let the girls pledge to them. Both girls drink too much and meet a lot of people, good and bad. The bad boy of the college seems to be a fraternity brother and also RA at the girls’ co-ed dorm. His name is Tristan and he is gorgeous but a heavy drinker and womanizer He immediately sets his sights on Ella, who does her best to lose him. She is there to study, or so she says. Josie is the swinger and she loves the party atmosphere and all the guys’ attention.

As classes begin and they meet other people. Ella becomes friends with a nerd named Jack who lives down the hall from her. They become study buddies and she goes out with him a few times, more out of pity than anything else. Tristan continues to pursue her and the louder she protests, the more determined he becomes. Apparently he has never been told no before. He is very open in his pursuit of her and one of his old flames confronts her on campus one day. They have a verbal confrontation that becomes physical. After they are separated, Tristan has a verbal confrontation with Skylar also.

That night Tristan and Ella go to the art room where he has promised to help her finish her painting. We have learned that he is a very talented painter and teacher and the art teacher agreed to leave the room open for them to have a private tutoring lesson. Painting is finished and the two get into a paint fight, then have a real mess to clean up. Before they can leave, Jack shows up and they leave the building together. Then they learn that Skylar has been murdered, mutilated and left tied to a tree nude with the words “bitch” and “slut” carved into her flesh. Tristan is immediately suspect number one but since he has an alibi and the police have no proof, they arrest him but have to let him go.

Tristan and Ella are spending more and more time together, an obvious chemistry there that neither can deny but Ella is not ready to accept. Jack seems to keep turning up all too frequently, leaving the reader wondering if he is a stalker, and possibly even a murderer. But Ella continues to pity him and see him as just a poor nerdy guy who needs a friend. The one thing that bothers her is that he suddenly is very secretive about his room and stops letting her come in and keeps the door shut and locked at all times..

Jack is telling her that Kristan is dangerous and she must stay away from him. Kristan is telling her the same thing about Jack. She thinks both are just jealous of each other but she continues to have the feeling of being watched and she still sees the glowing eyes from time to time.

When Jack’s roommate is found in their room, murdered and butchered, and Jack is missing, Josie and Ella’s parents arrive, the school is evacuated and classes cancelled until the murderer(s) can be caught. The wealthy parents have brought an entire army of giant bodyguards to protect the girls and old family secrets start coming out that have a direct bearing on these murders. The girls are told some, but not all, of their families history and how it relates to the current murders but they refuse to see the real danger and sneak away from their body guards to attend the sorority Halloween party in costume, then sneak into their abandoned dorm for some private time with their dates not realizing the killer was stalking them. Death awaited them, even when Ella managed to get outside, she could not escape the stalker.

This story gets more intense with each page and ends with a cliff hanger and a short note—“to becontinued”. The reader is left with an intense desire to get part 2 ASAP. We all want our love stories to end with a happily ever after but this novel leaves wondering—what next ? Another wonderful story by Jessica Miller—now I have to find part 2 before I go crazy !!!


I live in a fantasy world and have an over active imagination. But the best part about that is I never stop creating new characters and new stories to share. I love writing and expressing myself in a way that everyone else can enjoy as well. I work in the salon most days, but when i'm not doing hair, I'm writing or reading.

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