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  • A.E. Santana

Book Review: 'Forgive Me'

Stripe McLachlan is an investigative journalist who is making a name for herself with stories that bring to light the hard truths and ugliness of the world. She is contacted by the enigmatic entrepreneur Isaac Payne to write a feature on his new start up. But this seemingly routine, and even boring, prospect quickly descends into something dark and twisted, reconnecting Stripe to her haunted past involving her father’s death at the hands of the notorious Night Scrawler.

Forgive Me is the debut novel by Kateri Stanley, which blends various genres into a new mold of horror and suspense. With elements of science fiction, thrillers, slashers, and romance, Forgive Me unravels the sordid history and secrets of Stanley’s characters. The sections and chapters move the reader through time, space, and points of view, creating a jigsaw puzzle that reveals the whole picture at the end. Readers move backwards and forwards in time, and from one character to another, receiving flashes of insight, allowing readers to piece the story together. This type of storytelling can be a handful for readers to follow, but there is a rhythm and pattern in the structure that, once picked up, sails the reader through.

My favorite component of Forgive Me were the additions of urban legends and creepy pasta stories along with Stanley’s own urban legend creation. Fans of internet creepy lore will definitely get a kick out of these segments, especially those who are fascinated with stories like “Jeff the Killer.” Stanley also makes a good show at how true-life events can easily spiral out of control into their own infamous existence, all the while maintaining that the truth can be stranger than fiction.

Forgive Me also deals with the fine line between “evil” people and wounded people, stirring up philosophical questions such as, “Is it our actions that make us bad or our intentions?” and “Who gets to be labeled the ‘good’ guy / the ‘bad’ guy?” While all the characters—including the two protagonists—walk this line, the characters who are part of underrepresented communities could have been given more agency to deal with this topic. Still, Stanley makes a good case that, as humans, we all make choices, good or bad, with self-justified intentions—and that seeking forgiveness is not always met with reconciliation.

For readers interested in stories dealing with serial killers, urban legends / creepy pastas, and secret government conspiracies, Forgive Me mixes these topics into a storyline pregnant with themes of forgiveness, childhood trauma, and what is it that makes a person who they are.

Publisher: Darkstroke Books


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