Tonia Brown’s short stories have appeared in a variety of anthologies. She has cranked out several books, including The Cold Beneath,
Badass Zombie Road Trip, Skin Trade, and the erotic
steampunk series Clockworks and Corsets.
Tonia lives in
with her genius husband and an ever fluctuating number of cats. When not
writing she raises unicorns and fights crime with her husband under the code
names “Dr. Weird and his sexy sidekick Butternut.” North Carolina
SUNDOWNERS is a backwoods southern horror about the importance of family, the power of gossip and the nature of the artistic muse.
Fifteen years ago, siblings Coil and Cassiopeia suffered an incident in the woods behind their family home. An incident that neither of them can remember in full, that nearly killed Cass and left Coil accused as her abuser, and robbed young Coil of his artistic potential yet boosted his little sister into an almost overnight sensation in the art world. Now, fifteen years later, the self-exiled Coil has been called home to deal with his world famous sister as she suffers from Sundowning; severe and violent personality shifts after the sun sets. In order to cure her, the pair of siblings must come to terms with their old demons, both figuratively and literally. An ancient and terrible horror has risen once more from the backwoods of the family home, and this time it threatens to not only tear their family apart, but also the entire world.
The cover alone had me wanting to read this book but when I read the synopsis I was hooked. Add to it that it has been a long time since a book has freaked me out and you have a winning combination.
Coil and Cass suffered a tragic incident 15 years ago. Neither one say they remember what happened but living in a small Southern town gossip ran rapid and made Coil look like he had abused his younger sister. When he was old enough he left and never looked back. Now Cass is suffering from health and mental issues. She is normal during the day but at night she acts possessed and violent forcing her aunt Beth to commit her. Coil comes back to help his sister even though he doesn’t want to. But what happens next is scary and horrifying for the older people in town are suffering from what they call Sundowners but what Coil finds out is much more sinister and only he and Cass can save the town and themselves.
This is so out of my normal reading but I enjoyed it so much. Coil is a normal everyday guy who is running from his past even though he can’t remember one night that changed his life forever. I immediately felt Coil’s anxiety and anger at having to go home again. There is something about him that had me just connected to him from page one. Cass annoyed me through the whole book right up to the end until we find out why she acted the way she did towards her family. I loved the side characters Laura and Aunt Beth just as much. I would have liked to know a little more about them. The side stories are so important to the story even though at first they had me confused but in the end I understood why we were hearing about them.
This is defiantly not a book for the squeamish. This is true Horror writing at its best and Tonia will leave you guessing at ever turn. The way Tonia has at describing some of her scenes left me grossed out and needing a mental break. But I enjoyed being scared every minute. Tonia is defiantly an author to add to your buying list. 4/5 Bloody Fangs
Naomi eyed the straight razor she’d nipped from Mr. Baxter’s shaving kit. He wouldn’t mind that she used it to cut the donations from the aged, spotted backs, wrinkly thighs and flabby arms of the residents. She reckoned he would be mighty proud to have been so involved. Now it was her turn to make a donation. She still had a few squares left to work into the quilt, but that could wait. This was more important. They all should give their fair share.
She took up the razor and turned it on herself. Naomi cut away her fair share with a few determined slices, not to mention a whole lot of wincing and hissing. Using the corner of the razor, she peeled back the edge of her square, just a bit. She grasped this loose end of flesh and yanked, pulling along the guidelines she had worked into her own calf. The bloody square came away in one piece, then slipped from her trembling fingers with a wet slop to the floor. No bother. A little dirt wouldn’t make it any worse for wear. She planned on washing the whole quilt when she was done anyway.
Lightheaded and nauseated, Naomi picked up her needle and went back to work.
The voice guided her tired hands, assuring her that this was the right thing to do.
For the community.
What sets your book apart from other books in the horror genre?
I would like to think the understated terror of the book makes it different. In a recent glut of blood, guts and gore, Sundowners is a quiet, creeping kind of horror. The kind of novel where you aren’t really sure who is affected by what is going on, and who is just naturally, balls to the wall crazy. I tried hard to make the horror of Sundowners something that seems so natural to those in the novel, that they have a hard time of putting the pieces together, until of course it’s far too late. As a result, the terror doesn’t reach right out and grab you by the throat. Instead, it slinks in the room and sits quietly beside of you, just at the periphery of your vision, and when you turn your head to see if it’s really there, it vanishes.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a kid’s bedtime story. There are several disturbing themes such as murder, rape, incest and other such nasties, as well as a heaping helping of gore poured between the joints of the main story. Even so, the real terror of the work lies in the nature of madness, and how each character chooses to deal with it. Some stuff their wives via taxidermy, some slaughter their neighbors, and some paint.
Yes, I said paint.
Oh! There’s another thing that is different about this novel. Whereas a lot of writers write about other writers, this one is about a couple of artists. Coil, the main character, is an amateur painter, while his little sister, Cass, is an art world star. In fact, most of the story is told through art and the act of painting. After years of struggling with a lack of talent when compared with his sister, Coil begins painting stuff in his sleep that puts hers to shame. Why?
Well, you’ll just have to read it to find out.
I wanna say Thank you to Tonia for allowing me to review her book and Thank you to Jaidis for letting me be part of this tour.