A Paroxysm of Fear (Doyle & Braham: Book 2) by Chad Miller

Publisher: Hear Our Voice

Date of publication: February 3rd, 2023

Genre: Horror

Trigger Warning: Violence (Graphic), Gore (Graphic), Homophobia (mentioned)

Series: Doyle & Braham

The Prisoner of Fear—Book 1 (review here)

A Paroxysm of Fear—Book 2

Purchase Links: Kindle | B&N | AbeBooks

Goodreads Synopsis:

Fear and mystery follow me like an unwanted shadow. As the case of my missing friend, Dr. Charles Thorton, has horrifically concluded, a new mystery emerges! My miserable colleague, Thomas Braham and I discovered that Cordelia had been transformed into an abominable monster, and now we are now off on a discovery to find the root of her evil. We are whisked off on many twists and turns as our adventures lead us to lunatic asylums and underground surgical arenas. Our new apprentice, Scarlett, also joins our endeavors as I pray she only acts as our silent observer and resists sticking her nose where it doesn’t belong.

And still, our anonymous prisoner remains. They sit there waiting to be rescued and survive the torment and torture that awaits them. I’m confident they will be discovered, but I worry that the empty cell will be quickly filled by another poor soul.

I say with the greatest of confidence that Thomas, Scarlett, and I will uncover the truth. My fear and anxiety still remain. Sometimes it’s better to let things lie peacefully in ignorance. What sordid and cruel vermin will slither to the surface once we start turning up stones and digging holes? But my curiosity and need for discovery tamps down any trepidation I may have, and besides, I owe it to Dr. Thorton. Pray for us.

To life and light,

John Doyle

First Line:

June 4th – It was a silent night on the train, but I found myself unable to sleep, which was a predicament that my dear friend John didn’t suffer.

A Paroxysm of Fear by Chad Miller

Thomas Braham and John Doyle, along with Thomas’s niece Scarlett, have solved the case of Doyle’s missing friend, Dr. Charles Thornton. But the end of that case has opened up another question: How and why did Cordelia become a cannibalistic monster? Determined to find the answer, Braham and Doyle follow the clues. These clues lead them to illegal surgical rooms to lunatic asylums. Meanwhile, Scarlett is still in town, digging up clues there. It is Doyle and Baraham’s hope that she does so quietly and not draw attention to herself.

Meanwhile, our anonymous prisoner from the first book is slowly transforming into something horrendous. Will Braham and Doyle find any answers? Will Scarlett be able to keep under the radar? And what will happen to the prisoner?

A Paroxysm of Fear is the second book in the Braham and Doyle series. Readers cannot read this book as a standalone. You need to read book 1 to understand what is happening in book 2. You will be lost if you only read book 2.

Like the first book, A Paroxysm of Fear is written mainly through diary entries and letters. In 98% of books, this wouldn’t work, but in this case, it does. I felt slightly uneasy and nervous for the main characters when the diary entries and letters ended. It was because I didn’t know what would happen to the characters in the time between entries/letters. My imagination was going into overdrive. And people, that is what makes this such a good horror book.

The main plotline of A Paroxysm of Fear centers is Braham and Doyle’s investigation of what happened to Cordelia and where it occurred. They (and I) wanted to know what happened to her and why she turned into this horrendous thing. Their journey took them throughout Connecticut, New York, and Pennsylvania. As for the people they met, I didn’t trust any of them, and I have them all lumped into my “It could be him” category. As for Scarlett, she did a great job digging up information about Cordelia’s victims. I do think she was onto something towards the end of the book.

The other main storyline was about the anonymous prisoner. It was genius that the author chose to blank out who the captors were. I also loved seeing this person go from right-minded to insane. Of course, I did figure out who it was. But I couldn’t figure out who the captor was. His (and it was a he) motives were clear; he was looking for an elixir for some cure. Then there was a plot twist I didn’t see coming. Another anonymous prisoner is taken, and I can’t figure out who it is!!! Two people went missing towards the end of the book, which could be either of them.

Horror is the primary genre in A Paroxysm of Fear, and the author nailed it. As mentioned above, I was often left uneasy and nervous during the book. Compounded with the fact that Braham and Doyle didn’t know what they were digging into, it kept me off balance. The other genre that the book fits into is mystery, and it was written perfectly. I cannot figure out anything in this book, and I love it!!!

There are trigger warnings in A Paroxysm of Fear. They are violence, gore, and homophobia. The violence and gore are graphic. Homophobia is mentioned, but there is no great detail about it.

The end of A Paroxysm of Fear was interesting. Nothing was wrapped up. Instead, a whole new sense of urgency is instilled. I can only say that people go missing, and another anonymous prisoner is in the cell. Add on that the book ended on a cliffhanger, and oh my!!!

I would recommend A Paroxsym of Fear to anyone over 21. There is violence, but there is no language or sexual situations.

Many thanks to Chad Miller for allowing me to read and review A Paroxsym of Fear. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

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.