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Book Review: SCRATCHES by Joshua Marsella

SCRATCHES by Joshua Marsella

I decided to read this based on two things – one, the blurb sounded appealing and two, I like to support new writers since I know personally what an achievement it is to finish a book and publish it.

Blurb – A mother and son with a strained relationship inherit a house following the sudden death of a family member who had a history of violence. When the son moves his bedroom into the basement he starts to experience unexplainable and terrifying phenomena. After he uncovers a dark secret concealed in the house, they quickly learn that some truths are better left a mystery. Can they overcome their differences in order to survive or will the darkness consume them both?

So, what did I think?

I will start by saying that I drew comparison to my own favourite horror writer, Glenn Rolfe. Now, I happen to know that Joshua is also a fan, and whether his writing unintentionally was influenced by Rolfe or whether it almost acted as a subconscious homage, who knows? Either way, it meant I enjoyed it very much and devoured it in less than 24 hours. I warmed to the characters, especially 12 year-old Connor who warmed my heart and I just wanted to give him a hug. There were parts which were genuinely spooky and scenes that left you feeling uncomfortable and heartbroken. The constant cultural and horror fan references were fun too, with nods to Creepshow and Tales from the Crypt to name but a few.  It wasn’t full on gore-fest splatter-punk terror, it was more akin to something like Rolfe’s Abram’s Bridge. Joshua has alluded to the fact Scratches is intended to be the middle book in a trilogy and that he is currently working on a prequel. Now, if that book follows the main antagonist of Scratches, I imagine it’ll be a very different beast and way more violent and nasty. 

Considering Joshua self-edited and self-published this work, I was extremely impressed with the calibre of language but far more importantly for me, and intriguing storyline and characters you invest in.

I don’t go looking for typos or grammatical errors, especially in debut self-published work. I know how damn hard it is to produce a story people will actually want to read, and Joshua has achieved this.

I very much look forward to the next offering from this writer.

I gave Scratches 5 stars. But even higher praise was the likening to an early Rolfe. Coming from his biggest fan, that’s better than any official awards …

Janine Pipe is a Horror lover and writer who was first introduced to the genre as a child reading ‘Salem’s Lot – and she hasn’t looked back since. Citing Glenn Rolfe and Hunter Shea as her favourite current writers, she likes to shock with her writing. There is usually a lot of gore and plenty of swearing …  She is very thankful to her biggest cheerleaders, her husband and daughter and her mentor, Graeme Reynolds. She chews the fat with fellow authors on her blog –  Janine’s Ghost Stories and reviews for Scream Magazine and is a friend of Nightworms.

You can find her work at Tales to Terrify and several of her short stories have been published, including an all female anthology with Kandisha Press and the charity anthology, Diabolica Britannica. She is currently writing a splatterpunk novella about a teenage vampire hunter and has a horror podcast with fellow Brit and indie author, Lou Yardley called Cryptids, Crypts and Coffee.

Check her blog here –

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Join her Patreon gang  – www.patreon.comJanines_ghost_stories?fan_landing=true

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