The Celine Bower Story: Chronicle One by Carly Brown

Publisher: Mosaic Press

Date of publication: April 27th, 2021

Genre: Fantasy, Crime Fiction, Dark Fantasy, Horror

Trigger Warning: Rape (graphic and on-page), Attempted Rape (graphic and on-page), Depression (graphic and on-page), Alcohol (graphic and on-page), Domestic Violence (graphic and on-page). Racism (on-page),Death of parent (off-page and remembered), Drugs (graphic and on-page), Kidnapping (graphic and on-page)

Series: Celine Bower

The Celine Bower Story: Chronicle One

The Celine Bower Stoyr: Chronicle Two

Purchase Links: Kindle | B&N | Kobo | Google Play |

Goodreads Synopsis:

Celine Bower woke the morning after her night with John feeling shock and awe, and a growing sense of isolation. She remembered the meticulous plans and instinctively knowing how to cover her tracks. There wasn’t even a spot of blood on her boots when she took them off at the end of the night. Celine knew John couldn’t see what was happening behind him as she methodically prepared to alter his wretched existence forever.

Could it really be Celine looking back into her eyes, or was it someone else that took control of her body and her thoughts?

The Celine Bower Story, Chronicle One, is one woman’s epic journey from a kind and loving veterinarian and assault survivor, to a cunning and dangerous vigilante who will not be satisfied with just taking back the night, she’s taking it all back.

First Line:

“So, what’s your name, handsome?” the woman said as she turned and smiled at John Scott with a twinkle in her eye.

The Celine Bower Story: Chronicle One by Carly Brown

Celine had just graduated veterinary college and had landed a job working at her godfather’s veterinary hospital when she was kidnapped, drugged, beaten, and gang-raped. Destroyed and unable to remember anything about the assault, she works to get her life back on track. Then one stormy night, as Celine is tending to a dog hit by a car, the veterinary hospital is hit by lightning, and because Celine is holding a scalpel, she is too. Amazingly she is uninjured, but the strike has some interesting side effects. She is strong, but more importantly, she remembers the four men who raped her. That sends her on a path of vigilante justice. Can Celine get the justice that she so badly needs to heal and that the police can’t give her? And more importantly, will Celine stop after her rapists are taken care of? Or will she deal out more of her particular brand of justice?

I was hesitant when the author approached me to read and review Celine Bower. Why? I wouldn’t say I like reading books that deal with rape, and I try to avoid them at all costs. But, after reading the blurb, I was interested in it. So, I threw out any reservations and accepted the invite. I am glad I did because this book was excellent.

There are trigger warnings in Celine Bower. I do want to warn you that the triggers are many. The author doesn’t back down or sugarcoat anything that Celine goes through. That is what made this book so good and so heartbreaking at the same time. The trigger warnings are:

  1. Rape—Celine is gang raped towards the beginning of the book. But, while you know she was raped and who raped her, the author didn’t get graphic until almost the middle of the book. One of the rapists recounts a memory where his father raped his mother in front of him as a child.
  2. Attempted Rape—Celine interrupts a man trying to rape a teenager. At the end of the book, someone attempts to rape another girl.
  3. Depression—After being raped, Celine goes through a significant depression for weeks. She is brought out of her depression by her mother doing an intervention with her best friend.
  4. Alcohol—Alcohol is enormous in this book. Celine does drink socially. Her rapists also drink socially and use alcohol to abuse women. During her rape, Celine is forced to drink a lot of beer to throw the police off. Alcohol plays a big part in Celine’s vigilante work with her rapists.
  5. Domestic ViolenceCeline is beaten while drugged up by one of her rapists. Her injuries were severe. One of the rapists has a girlfriend and daughter. He is known to beat her and other women regularly. One of the rapists witnessed his mother being beaten by his father.
  6. Racism—A witness to Celine’s kidnapping is a Native American. The racists throw slurs at him when he decides to leave. The ringleader shows up at this guy’s apartment and threatens him with violence while throwing racial slurs at him.
  7. Death of a parent—Celine’s father was killed when a drunk driver hit him head-on.
  8. Drugs—Celine is drugged when her rapist (a co-worker) slips roofies into her coffee. The rapists smoke pot before, during, and after the rape.
  9. Kidnapping—Celine is carried to a van by two of her rapists.

If any of these trigger you, I recommend not reading the book.

The Celine Bower Story: Chronicle One is a fast-paced book. The pacing of this book fits the storyline. It would have caused some lag with the plotline if it had been any slower.

The Celine Bower Story: Chronicle One takes place in Norfolk Falls. The author didn’t specify a state (and if she did, I missed it). Norfolk Falls is your typical medium-sized town, and I loved it. I could see my town (which borders small and medium-sized) in how the author wrote it.

The main storyline of The Celine Bower Story: Chronicle One centers around Celine and rape (before and after). This is a well-written storyline with so many layers. As soon as the author peeled back one layer, another appeared. The attention to detail and the author’s expression in describing everything made this book a joy. Of course, I could have done with a little less detail during the rape, but, as I stated above, I am not a huge fan of rape being the main storyline.

I both loved and feared Celine. She was a powerful person who had something horrible happen to her. There were points in the book where I wanted to step in and hug her. When she started her vigilante justice, I was on pins and needles for her and cheered for each rapist she took down.

I do want to touch on the rape investigation. I felt that the author kept it as true to life as possible and portrayed the police as realistically as well. The Sex Crimes officers had their hands tied (without suspects and DNA evidence that took forever to get in). I was upset at the questions that they had to ask Celine. Who in their right mind asks an assault victim questions like that? And when they figured out what Celine was doing, I loved how they had their back. While it wasn’t realistic, it was still awesome to read.

I disagreed with the dark fantasy/fantasy listing that the author gave this book. Nothing was pointing to fantasy until Celine got hit by lightning. And then, it was like it didn’t happen until she beat the guy who attempted to rape the fifteen-year-old toward the end of the book. I am hoping, though, that book two does delve more into that genre. From the little that the author showed, I am very interested.

The crime fiction angle was well-written. The author did a great job detailing the police’s side of Celine’s rape. It showed their frustration with having their hands tied because of the victim’s amnesia and how slow the DNA evidence was to be processed.

The horror angle of the book was well written also. The author did a fantastic job of detailing the horror of Celine’s rape. But, and this is the big thing, she also did a great job of threading horror into Celine’s vigilante work. I am not going to get into detail, but what she did to her rapists was perfect and, honestly, horrifying.

The end of The Celine Bower Story: Chronicle One was interesting. The author ended the main storyline but left enough for a second book. I cannot wait to read book 2!!

I recommend The Celine Bower Story: Chronicle One to anyone over 21. There is graphic violence, language, and graphic sexual situations. Also, see my trigger warnings.

Other books by Carly Brown:

Missing by Amy Kulp


Date of publication: November 1st, 2022

Genre: Crime Fiction, Psychological Thriller

Trigger Warning: Kidnapping, Grooming, Racism, Abuse, Fat Shaming, Low Self Esteem, Human Trafficking, Torture, Blood, Drugging

Purchase Links: Kindle

Goodreads Synopsis:

Perfect for fans of hit YA thrillers like Amanda Panitch’s Never Missing, Never Found and Natasha Preston’s The Cellar, Amy Kulp’s Missing is a visceral, dark, and suspenseful thriller that dives into the life of a teenage girl who is betrayed and forced into the horrifying underground world of human trafficking.

Everything in Emily’s life becomes far from typical when she is betrayed, kidnapped, and thrown into every girl’s worst nightmare. Now, she is a captive to the gruesome and savage whims of an underground human trafficking ring – one that prides itself in breaking women down to husks of their former selves through any means necessary.

Emily tries her hardest to put up a good fight, but her captors are sickeningly creative in their methods of subduing her. Before she knows it, they try to brainwash her into believing her name is “Y,” and they are more than happy to leverage physical and psychological torture to strip her of her identity and fracture her mind beyond repair.

Is there any hope for escape, or will Emily become a pawn in her kidnappers’ plot to terrorize more innocent victims?

Missingis not for the faint of heart. If you are looking for a raw and gritty YA thriller that looks into the world of human trafficking and abuse, then click “Add to Cart” today!

First Line:

I stopped breathing when I saw the new kid walk into my class. I noticed everyone else stopped what they were doing and stared too.

Missing by Amy Kulp

Emily is your typical girl next door who is betrayed by people she thought she trusted. Kidnapped and then tortured by a human trafficking ring bent on breaking her, Emily vows never to forget who she is and where she came from. But can Emily hold onto her sense of self? Or will she be broken down and then built back up into a monster who works for the ring?

When I first read the blurb for Missing, I knew what I was getting into, reading-wise. But, for some reason, I thought it would be a more dumbed-down version of a human trafficking story. Heads up, it is not. This book is a brutal look into how a human trafficking ring operates and what the victims go through while they are being broken. It is raw, and it is ugly.

What scared me the most about this book was that the author had teenagers befriend (and, in one case, date) Emily to kidnap her. It is scary, but I can see this happening. Several adults in this book who Emily was familiar with held positions where kids would trust them. Again, it was something that I could see happening. But at the same time, the author gave this book a sort of a fever dreamish type of reality. The teenagers that helped with Emily’s kidnapping she grew up with. So either they were kidnapped and trafficked with the sole purpose of luring girls, or Emily imagined it. I couldn’t make up my mind while reading.

There are trigger warnings in Missing. Oh boy, there are trigger warnings. They are

  1. Kidnapping: Emily is kidnapped, in broad daylight, by a human trafficking ring. Several other children and adults are in the van(s) with her.
  2. Grooming: Emily is groomed by Miguel during the first few chapters, with Chad doing additional grooming when Miguel isn’t there.
  3. Racism: Off page, but Emily’s father was racist. She commented that he wouldn’t like Miguel because he was Hispanic.
  4. Abuse: Emily is horrifically abused while being broken down. She is abused physically, mentally, psychologically, and verbally. Thankfully, she wasn’t sexually because her virginity was viewed as an asset.
  5. Fat Shaming: Chad comments about Emily’s weight as part of her grooming.
  6. Low Self-Esteem: Emily suffers from very low self-esteem at the beginning of the book.
  7. Human Trafficking: For 80% of the book, Emily is imprisoned by a human trafficking ring. There are other children and adults in the processing center (for lack of a better term) with her.
  8. Torture: As part of the ring trying to break Emily, they torture her, and the more she resists, the more they torture her.
  9. Blood: A lot of blood is shown on page after Emily is kidnapped. Once she proves difficult, the kidnappers feel they have no choice but to beat her until she bleeds.
  10. Drugging: Emily is drugged constantly throughout the book. I believe that she is continuously roofied.

If any of these triggers you, I suggest not reading this book.

The characters in Missing were not made to be liked. Except for Emily, they were shown as vile human beings they were. I got sick when I realized what was happening (it was when Miguel and Emily were hiding in her house). As for Emily, I was rooting for her not to forget herself (and become “Y”) and for her to escape. I wanted to see that slightly awkward, sweet girl shown at the book’s beginning again.

The main storyline centered on Emily, her kidnapping by the ring, and the crew trying to break her. The storyline was well written and kept me, unwillingly at times, in its grip. I was rooting for Emily to escape, beat the odds, and return to her family.

While this book is technically a YA thriller, I would be hesitant to let anyone under 16 read it. Heck, my hesitation extends to 18. While this book needs to be read, there should be discussions about human trafficking and what those people go through after each chapter. I had a similar conversation with my mother when I read Don’t Ask Alice as a teenager.

The end of Missing broke my heart. It was not a happy ending for any of the characters. And that’s all I am going to say about it. Reading the book to understand what I mean would be best.

I would recommend Missing to anyone over 21. There are language, violence, and sexual situations. Also, see my trigger warning list.

Many thanks to Amy Kulp and Novel Cause for allowing me to read and review Missing. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

Other books by Amy Kulp: