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LOVE NEVER DIES. PEOPLE DO. It is a journey to the festering abscesses of the human heart, a dark love story told as only Jeffery X Martin can tell it.
Mark and Nika Pendleton have just moved into the small town of Elders Keep. But the presence of the newcomers has awakened the evil that lives in the forest. Pray for the Pendletons before it’s too late.
What Readers Are Saying
This novella takes place in the spooky southern town of Elder's Keep, and can be read as a stand-alone story from the others in the series. This tale was a great combination of murder investigation, love story, folklore, and gloriously gory horror. Lush imagery and snappy dialogue transport you to Elder's Keep. An excellent addition to the realm.
By Lydian Faust on February 15, 2017
When a young couple moves to an idyllic Tennessee town, happiness ensues, right? This is a novel with roots in a collection of short stories by the same author. You've likely read the synopsis, and telling anymore would inevitably bring spoilers, and I will not do that. You must get this book, and help out an indie author who has a seriously twisted, and often humorous voice. It is speaking loud and needs to get louder.
By Chuck Knight on July 18, 2016
Hunting Witches is not my first fling with the works of Jeffery X. Martin. My first was his short story in the very impressive first volume of The Black Room Manuscripts, titled "AND IN THE ENDLESS PAUSE THERE CAME THE SOUND OF BEES." I was impressed right away with Mr. X's prowess with the written word and the originality of his work, his ability to take the most mundane of situations and people and turn that village upside down. The same can be said regarding Hunting Witches. While it probably helps to have read his previous Elders Keep works found in his collection of short works called "Black Friday," however, it is not necessary. The characters are easily relatable and the story will engulf you regardless if you are a new member in this community or if you've walked the hallowed streets for years. The world of Elders Keep is deep and very strange. Right away we're introduced to young-ish couple Mark and Nika Pendleton who have just moved into the small town of Elders Keep. They felt to me very normal, people I could know in my own life. They want what most Americans do, a place to grow roots, a home, a community to raise our kids. After Mark lands a rather sweet job at a booming company, things seem to be looking good for the Pendleton's. But then, as most of these stories go, things start getting...weird. The people comprised within Elders Keep seem, well, out of place, stuck somehow in those, as the saying goes, "one horse town." And the oddness is not just with the people you bump into on the street or the ones you dare a double date with, it's the religiosity of a place, the church bells in the forest, and the desperation to baptize an unforgiving world full of sin, to take hold of those traditional values that seem so hard to let go of. The most heart-breaking thing to me about this whole story is that Mark and Nika were rather innocent of everything, they never bothered a soul. They just wanted their slice of the American hamlet. Was that so much to ask?
By Thomas S Flowers on August 19, 2016
A copy of Hunting Witches was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer by the author, Jeffery X Martin in exchange for an honest review. This is said review. This book is published by Shadow Work Publishing.
The above is sort of true. Mr Martin actually won the author’s part of the writing competition during the Confessions First birthday party. Part of his prize was some blog time which, luckily for me, has included this review. I will hold my hand up and admit to the fact that the only thing I have read of his previously was the story he entered in the competition. I loved it so much though that I just had to do this. It’s very exciting when someone gets me totally interested in their writing in a one hundred word short.
This is what I thought of Hunting Witches.
Elders Keep is a place of secrets. Secrets so old and secrets so vicious that many of its districts lay empty, people are simply too afraid to live there.
Mark and Nika Pendleton have recently moved to the area after Mark landed a dream job. They know there is something strange there, but it doesn’t seem to put them off moving to the area.
They should have paid attention to the signs. They should have stayed where they were. The people of Elders Keep are hunting witches and they have Mark and Nika in their sights.
I have mentioned them before and they are of course the main characters in this story. Mark and Nika are a young married couple deeply in love. Being an inter-racial couple living in the south proves the point that they are totally devoted to each other and like to see themselves as strong in their personal and professional lives.
The local Sherriff, Graham Strahan and his Deputy, Kevin Moon are the only law enforcement in the area. The Sherriff knows there are secrets, but the Deputy doesn’t. As characters, they must obviously work as a team and believe me, they work together fantastically well. There is a certain chemistry between them that is serious at times and funny at times and makes for wonderful reading. You know they are going to stick together no matter what, but at the same time always have a little bit of conflict.
The nasty people in this tale would be Rafferty, Pastor Edwards and Penny. They are a very mixed bunch and I cannot tell you too much about them or I will give some of the plot away. Rafferty is just pure nasty. Edwards is not what you would think. Penny is probably very naive and easily led but has a very dark streak running through her.
The plot? The easy part is that Elders Keep is a weird place. You know there is something wrong there. You just don’t know what. Obviously when Mark and Nika move there, strange things start to happen to them. That’s it. I cannot possibly give you anymore. Trust me though, you will want to explore this book further to find out exactly what those strange things are and why they are happening.
This book could fall under many categories. It is horror, there is no doubt about that. It is also supernatural to a point, paranormal to a point. It has the feel of an old film about a cult or a town with a population that has been brainwashed into believing that something ancient and evil is still around in today’s time, and must be defeated by any means possible. I would go so far as to say that this one is more 70’s horror than the 80’s pulpy stuff we love so well. This has a more Amityville feel. It’s an atmosphere that stinks of flared trousers and men with long hair and women with hair like a pair of curtains. It has an aura of small town everything where everyone knows each other and nothing is done without the whole town knowing. At the same time though, evil is everywhere. It hides in the shadows and everyone knows it is there but can do nothing about it.
Jeffery X Martin is, quite simply, a fantastic writer. The thing that struck me with the short piece he wrote for the competition was how effective he was at getting across a feeling or an emotion or sight or smell in very few words. He does exactly the same thing in Hunting Witches. This story is raw at times. So raw in fact that it feels very basic. Until the weaving of the web begins and the story starts to take shape and you suddenly sit up and think, hang on, this is getting interesting. From that point you won’t want to put it down.
The style is not conventional either but it is so effective in how it breaks the story up and brings it all back together again to give you the perfect overall picture of the events unfolding. It describes the same scenes from various people’s perspectives. At the start of this you will be thinking I have just read about this part, why am I reading about it again. That will all become very clear and trust me again you will love how it all comes together.
Another thing that Mr Martin does very effectively is drag you deep into the story then fire something out at you that was so unexpected you will find yourself reading the same passage a few times to confirm you were right. His characters don’t necessarily get what you would expect them to get in a story like this. It’s not all fairy tales and happy endings. You may be rooting for one person and discover that….well….not telling you but it will hit you like a smack in the face with a wet fish and you will close the book disappointed that Mr Martin has teased you, then stopped. But you will be begging for more.
To summarise: an old time witch hunting story reminiscent of times in ancient history with a modern feel to it. It has scary parts and humorous parts. It has plenty of blood and guts when you want it. It is filled with emotion and a tale that will totally draw you into every printed word.
★★★★★ loved the old skool feeling to this.
★★★★★ creepy as hell.
By Confessions of a Reviewer on August 17, 2016
King has Derry, Martin has the Keep. We all give things a second thought when they go "bump". Read the anthologies for character backgrounds and just because they are great. Definitely worth the wait.
By Jen N. on July 16, 2016
I'm not usually a fan of horror but this story really captures some of the mysterious and creepy feelings that permeate the landscape and culture of West Tennessee. The romantic relationships are fun to read and entirely believable. Hope there is a sequel!
By Amazon Customer on October 8, 2016
Elder's Keep is the type of town you'd like to pass on by and never look back. Yet, some of us, including myself, can't wait to return. In "Hunting Witches," we meet Mark and Nika Pendleton, a modern couple who can't wait to buy their old-fashioned, southern dream-home in Elder's Keep- a seemingly sleepy town with a turbulent undercurrent. Familiar characters return, as the sheriff of the Keep struggles to maintain the balance between personal and professional, and struggles between the dark and the even darker forces at work in the Keep. References to witchcraft, folklore, Christian, Pagan, and even Satanic tradition, are woven throughout the work, and are a pleasant surprise to scholars of folklore and/or religion. Five is a number oft-repeated ... This is an engaging work, part of a series that I hope will continue. We get yet another glimpse into the mythology of the town of Elder's Keep, and I hope that we get to dig-in further.
By Lydian Faust on July 17, 2016
The Tarot has always been about how the reader interprets the cards. The author's use of comedy to build a world based upon the pictures of the cards works amazingly well. Even in such short entries, the author builds a background of intersecting characters and history that manages to pull the reader in and compel you forward in the book. A great choice for $4.00. Highly recommended.
By M. Scofield on October 12, 2012
An entertaining story driven look at the Tarot. I was thoroughly entertained with this book. If you are looking for something a little different and fun, this is the book for you!
By Eve Harris on June 2, 2014
If you enjoy tarot as well as wit and humor, this book will definitely please you.
Each page will keep you laughing the whole way through. You may even need to pause to catch your breath every once in a while.
The stories for each card are imaginative and delightfully silly.
By Monika G on January 9, 2014
I loved this book. Using the second person point of view was an ingenious move, and left me craving more! The only downside is there is not a part 2 waiting for me to read!
By Eve Harris on June 6, 2014
The ground-breaking "Short Stories About You" uses 2nd-person POV as sharply and effectively as Hannibal Lecter wields a knife. As promised, these are stories about You. You will occupy the minds of various people, women, men and children, good and evil and a little bit of both. You will see things through their eyes that can't be unseen, do things that cannot be undone. You won't be able to put it down.
Martin's terse, flowing prose and realistic characters grab you by the throat from the first story and don't let up until the very end. Even then, these stories will stick with you. Some will haunt you. Some offer redemption. Others will break your heart.
Readers of Martin's previous collection, "Black Friday," will find a special treat among these stories, a nasty little literary easter egg that deepens the horror of his previous work. I read this book first, and quickly gobbled up "Black Friday," eager for more.
I suggest you do the same, if you've got the stomach for it. I'm certainly looking forward to more from this author.
By Duncan Ralston on June 6, 2014
The concept is genius, the stories are awesome, and the lead character is You. It puts You right into the story and makes You feel, hear, and think everything you are reading. I love these short stories, especially right before bed time. Some creep you out, some make you think, and some puts that lump in your throat that makes you hold back tears. I think Everyone would love these "Short Stories About You"
By Winter on June 1, 2014
Elders Keep has a very bad reputation and boy it is well deserved and then some. As the holiday season approaches the horrors and deaths ramp up in an escalating fashion There are eight dark, twisted, gory and horror filled short stories in this book and I can't pick a favourite as they're all so good for different reasons. I especially loved that even during this ride of terror there is also some humour thrown in there to soften the blow that comes next. This is the first book of Jeffery X Martin's that I've read and it certainly won't be the last. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves the horror genre.
By Joan Macleod on March 6, 2016
For one thing, it's haunted. For another, it's cursed. And all that wouldn't be so bad if its citizens weren't on the verge of exploding.
Elders Keep follows in the tradition of Stephen King's Castle Rock and Lovecraft's vision of Massachusetts, with a touch of "Peyton Place" and "Twin Peaks" weird thrown in for good measure. It is classic small-town evil with an urban feel, an unhealthy brew of traditional and non-traditional horror. Martin is building a mythology here, taking tried and true horror tropes and turning them on their heads in fresh and exciting ways. It's difficult to surprise me, but these stories have unexpected twists and consequences. Martin ratchets up the horror in every tale. He describes pure, atavistic dread as if he's experienced these terrors first hand. That's just great writing.
There's something for everyone in "Black Friday." The first story, "Godwyn," takes Anne Rice by the hand and leaves her bleeding behind the nearest Dumpster, while in "Swear Words," the newly elected Sheriff learns the job may be more about keeping the secrets of Elders Keep than serving and protect its people.
There's an evil bubbling up in Elders Keep this Christmas season, and it's about to boil over. With blood.
By Duncan Ralston on July 5, 2014
The entire time I was reading this book I was torn between trying to make it last as long as possible and not being able to put it down. Martin is a spellbinding storyteller. His characters are so well created, you feel you know them. You've seen them at the grocery store. You've run from them, screaming, in your nightmares. And Elders Keep itself is a fully developed character - yet again, I was torn. Do I hope nowhere like this has ever or will ever exist or do I quit my job, sell my house and move there? Terrifying and compelling, each story draws you deeper in and hooks you. My dearest hope is that this is the first of many books about Elders Keep from this amazing writer.
By Claudia H. Linse on January 11, 2014
I loved this book. Mr. Martin paints and eerie picture of elders keep that sucked me in and stuck in my head. I hope he continues on telling stories about the people in this town. It's far more entertaining than the news from lake wobegon.
By Dan on July 3, 2014
It's always a treat to find authors who are new to me. Jeffery Martin can tell a story. Elder's Keep is a well developed character that winds it's way through all of the stories in this collection. His prose style is straightforward and descriptive. I read this entire book over the course of an evening and am looking forward to more from Martin in the future.
By Jen N. on May 31, 2014
These stories quickly sucked me in and kept me riveted from the beginning to the end. I found myself wishing that I could live in (or at least visit) Elder's Keep. Jeffery Martin is a superb wordsmith. I highly recommend this book, and check out his others as well, you will not regret it!
By Eve Harris on June 2, 2014
"The Keep always gets what it wants." And what The Keep wants will make you shiver and retch! Martin's collection of tales about the odd town of Elder's Keep is a fine balance of Southern Gothic and modern gore. Maintaining balance is a running theme of the collection, as old ways struggle with the new, love wrestles with rage, and justice is meted out in some spectacularly gruesome ways. As the tales progress, the reader is led through the seasonal progression of Elder's Keep, and the horrors of Halloween seem almost tame in comparison to the nightmare Christmas wish, on the lips of every child of The Keep. Quickly-paced, smattered with dark comedy and alternative music references, this was a thoroughly engrossing read.