Skein by C.J. Sellers

by C.J. Sellers (aka Cynthia J. Sellers)

Genre: Horror, Paranormal Fantasy, Speculative Fiction

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. The opinion in this review is unbiased and reflects my honest judgment of the book.

The way in which Skein's story unfolds, I originally thought Elle was to be the main character. A few chapters in, it became evident that despite the book's synopsis, the real star of this work of fiction was Fane; a juvenile delinquent, moves to the small town (can it even be called a town?) of Ffynnon Gwynedd and meets Elle, a few years younger. Your eyes aren't playing tricks on's truly spelled like that.

Fane, a diagnosed schizophrenic, hears voices. These command hallucinations tell him to do bad things. Only by the help of an idol (a necklace his grandmother, and now mother, wore) do these voices fall to silence.

As much as Fane's family lineage plays an important role in the telling of Skein, the setting in which it is told is front and center.

The biggest struggle I had when reading was the very obscure names. Fane, Anta, Magritte, the above named town, etc... I am all for not naming characters Tom, Dick & Jane, but having so many unique names was a bit distracting.

Skein really came into it's own in the second half of the book. At a mere 155 pages, at times the first half felt like information overload, which made it difficult to keep up with the changing time and multiple characters. There was a distinct moment that I remember thinking oh, now I've got it, and everything fell into place.

That being said, where Sellers really excels is in her use of description. It's as if she's got a knack for arranging words in such a way that they dance on a page.
Fane walked on the winged heels of the gods, surer and more noble in step, certain now that he was no longer being led. In his mind's eye, he was a huge, majestic stag, surveying the field, daring all comers to challenge his authority. This was his valley and no one better try to pull anything without getting his okay first, not even him. Fane Price-Johnns—man in charge. All was right.
I try not to discuss cover art unless I feel strongly one way or the other. But I wanted to call this one out. I like the choice of colors and find it to be aesthetically pleasing. My only issue is that the cityscape shown on the cover is not congruent with the picture painted in the story. Described as having something like three families living in the area, I would have liked to see something with sprawling pastures with a few modes homes, or the church that was in the story. Or even the Owlry. Is that a real word? Owlry? Owl coop? no that's not right. The place they kept the owls...better?

I gave Skein three stars because while I liked the story, it could have been more effective had the book been longer, the transitions between eras and introduction of characters a bit smoother, and the demonic/paranormal parts had gone deeper and given us more than just a taste.

The Bookie Monster's Rating:

What if your life seemed ordinary until the day you found out that minutes before your grandmother died, she was possessed by demons, live, on a video later published on YouTube?

…and that since then, your boyfriend’s been hearing voices telling him to get out of the area before it’s too late?

Elle Reese is about to find out there’s a lot she doesn’t know about the mountains where she grew up. And the good people of Middleston, North Carolina are about to change.

Cynthia Jean (C.J.) Sellers spent her early childhood in Toledo, Ohio, USA, a place like so many in The Rust Belt around the Great Lakes, that suffered disintegration of their vital core due to a dependency on manufacturing, first during the Great Depression and again after a production shift to China and the southeastern US.

Her family--forced to choose between layoff and continued employment in a new area of the country--left behind the nucleus of several generations rooted in the Toledo area, to relocate to the wilderness of rural Virginia. This isolation from roots and family support, friends and community, combined with pressures from corporate culture, led her parents to a meltdown that ended in divorce. CJ later lost her closest family members to illnesses of the brain.

Loss of identity/self, family, and place were the impetus for CJ's decision to lampoon the dynamics of society and family gone off the rails through means of the horror genre.

That said, no family history plays out in her fiction, no characters literally resemble any persons living or deceased. Situations presented are metaphors for how life feels at times of great emotional disturbance and loss--normal life warps into the surreal.

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Length: 155 Pages
Published by: Self-Published
Publication Date: August 6th 2013

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