The Prisoner of Fear (Doyle and Braham: Book 1) by Chad Miller

Publisher: Hear Our Voice

Date of publication: October 1st, 2022

Genre: Horror

Series: Doyle and Braham

The Prisoner of Fear—Book 1

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | AbeBooks | Alibris | Powells | IndieBound | Indigo

Goodreads Synopsis:

It is 1889 in Philadelphia, and detective John Doyle is restless. Along with his miserable partner, Thomas Braham, Doyle pursues mysteries, strange sightings, and other obscurities tossed aside and disregarded by the police. For years, Doyle has taken on these cases in the hopes of discovering something supernatural – something that could upend and dispute his long-standing, debilitating fear that immortal souls do not exist.

Doyle’s search for the supernatural remains unsuccessful until he receives a strange letter from an old doctor friend regarding a young woman with a mysterious and rather disturbing illness. When the doctor goes missing in the same town that this young woman resides in, Doyle and Braham decide to take on the case and search for clues regarding their missing friend. In doing so, they discover that there is no longer any suffering young woman, but a dangerous abomination whose origin cannot be explained by science nor modern medicine.

Meanwhile, an unnamed victim has been kidnapped. Trapped in a cell with nothing but a journal to document their experiences, this mysterious Prisoner must undergo terrifying scientific experiments while trying not to lose all hope and sanity.

Inspired by the works of renowned horror and mystery writers like Stephen King, Edgar Allen Poe, and Arthur Conan Doyle, The Prisoner of Fear brilliantly weaves questions of mortality and the human propensity for evil into a truly intriguing, unique, and frightening narrative.

First Line:

April 20th-I have always had a fondness for my friendship with John Doyle, but after the events of today, my admiration deepened.

The Prisoner of Fear by Chad Miller

I enjoy a good horror book, and I love them around Halloween. Reading these books around the spookiest time of year makes them even creepier for me. And, to be honest, that is the main reason I accepted the invite from the publisher. I wanted a spooky book to read (not that I have plenty in my TBR….lol).

The Prisoner of Fear is the first book in the Doyle and Braham series. You can ignore the usual stuff I write about reading previous books because it is the first book.

The Prisoner of Fear tells a story about a young woman infected with a mysterious illness. Doyle and Braham get involved when the young woman’s mother writes to them and asks if they could come and investigate. What they encounter is beyond anything that they have ever seen or experienced. In a parallel storyline, an unknown person is kidnapped, thrown into a cell, experimented on, and forced to write a journal detailing their every thought. How are these two storylines connected, and why? What horror did Doyle and Braham experience at that house in Connecticut?

When I started reading The Prisoner of Fear, I wasn’t expecting the format it was written in. It was written in the form of journal entries, police reports, and news articles. At first, it did throw me off. I am not a huge fan of books written in this fashion. But, as the book went on, I grew used to and came to like how it was written. The author did something that I haven’t seen before in a book written in journal format. I liked that he created characters that had a depth to them.

The main storyline of The Prisoner of Fear revolves around Doyle, his partner Braham, and the events in Connecticut. The author drew me into the story by slowly leaking bits of information about Charles, Cordelia, Doyle, Braham, and (to a lesser extent) Braham’s niece, Scarlett. When I can get as involved with the characters as I did, it makes the book even more enjoyable to read.

The parallel storyline with the unknown stranger did confuse me at first. The author introduced this person (I have no clue if they are male or female) halfway through the book. I couldn’t understand why the author did that until almost the end of the book. That was when the author revealed something significant. Then everything made sense (why the author introduced this person). I wish the stranger’s identity were revealed and the redacted parts of the diary revealed names. The author deliberately did this, and it frustrated me. I am not the type of person to wait until the next book. As Veruca Salt famously says, “I want it now!!

The author very well wrote the horror angle. From the beginning, I had mild anxiety while reading the lead-up to Doyle and Braham’s trip to Connecticut. But, once they got to Connecticut, my anxiety grew. I knew something terrible was going to happen. I didn’t expect how it happened and the fallout from it. I was genuinely creeped out by Cordelia’s condition and her mother’s dedication to keeping her happy. What they found in the basement and the journal excerpts pulled out of the fire added to it. Also adding to my discomfort was how Charles’s sister was acting. It was weird and offsetting, to say the least, and made me wonder if what happened to Cordelia is happening to her.

The end of The Prisoner of Fear was interesting. I say interesting because while Doyle and Braham solved Cordelia’s case, there was still so much up in the air. I wanted to know what was happening to Jessica (Charles’s sister). There was also the matter of the person being held captive and what was done to them. The author did say that there was going to be a book 2, and I hope it answers those questions.

I would recommend The Prisoner of Fear to anyone over 21. There is mild language, no sex, and moderate to graphic violence in parts of the book.

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