This is another first, ladies and gentlemen! My first hosted tour post for Bewitching Book Tours, and the first independently published piece of young adult paranormal fiction I’ve ever read. Yes, ever. The experience has left me feeling heartened that there is quality work produced by passionate people, and I intend to read more… most likely starting with Nikki’s Sunshine series because her origin story as a self-pubbed author is pretty spectacular. Let me tell you that story first, because it’s always awesome hearing about other people’s successes following a long list of rejections.
The writer in question is Nikki Rae — an independent author of five titles for young adult readers. Nice lady. Had the opportunity to exchange a couple of emails with her prior to getting down to business, and hopefully, if she’s got some time next month following her book tour of The Crow Box, she’ll pop in and give us a guest post about something dark and fun.
She started writing at the age of fifteen following a broken knee and having nothing to do. Her friends were encouraging, they read the book. Later in her college years, she put that book into the hands of a couple of professors and continued developing it. After a time and many failed query attempts, she realized she missed the immediate elation of people reading her work, and elected to publish the first book in the Sunshine series. The effort’s led her to a career as a writer and editor, and by the look of The Crow Box, that was a damn fine idea in my opinion.
About The Crow Box by Nikki Rae
The story follows Corbin who receives a gift from her mother that came from an antique store: a box that can only be opened but partially. Her mom suffers from a mental illness that prevents her from working, and she demonstrates a tendency to collect things (forgive my over-indulgent bird imagery: but she’s a magpie. A hoarder.)
Open investigating the box, Corbin starts experiencing sensory hallucinations herself, or so she thinks. These impressions arrive on the edge of sleep, and for a time, she attempts to push away the voice that whispers to her, that touches her in her sleep, that becomes a comfort.
Gradually, the voice begins to gather form, and the deeper Corbin gets, the more she experiences, the more she becomes convinced that she’s going crazy herself.
Book Post Mortem: The Crow Box by Nikki Rae
Weird. Creepy. Disorienting. Hallucinatory in places. Soft and lovely in others.
I loved the protagonist, Corbin, from the outset: she’s a little alternative, a little isolated, and possessed of an artistic temperament (which I can totally relate to: weird art school kids; we recognize each other from afar.) Six in tantalizing: he has his secrets, and while he claims to love Corbin, it’s difficult knowing that he is a monster. A spirit? A demon? A creature, for sure, in his natural state. Maybe a dybbuk, following in the tradition of Kevin Mannis’ The Possession?
At the first mention of a spirit tied to a box, I thought: this thing is malevolent. The manifestations that accompany him, that colour Corbin’s hallucinations, are all of the creepy-crawly variety, and they’re all shaded darkly.
Just what is Six, exactly? You never find out. He’s a weird specimen, from the few glimpses we get of him. Given that The Crow Box is the first in a series of books, I expect we’ll learn more in the sequel. He claims to not want to hurt Corbin, be he needs her to gather strength to keep his human form in tact; a measure of exertion, I expect, that keeps from terrifying her outright.
We know one thing’s for certain, though: Six is old, and Six has known Corbin for a very long time.
The book isn’t without problems typical of the genre, though: would your average weirdo teenager respond to an otherworldly stimulus so peaceably? If that were me, I’d chuck the box then shut my mouth about it. Something strange happened, but it’s fine. We’re good. Everything’s totally normal because I’m pretending very hard that it is. Nothing to see here. (I’d have the box magically reappear the very next day, because you know, otherworldly determination — but that’s just me.)
Corbin likes the presence of Six because she’s lonely. She invites it in because she profiles as an isolated strange-case, and in that, she’s a bit of a sucker for punishment, even as she tries to deny what’s happening to her.
There are a few angles that are blunted where there might’ve been some sharp rises in action, but those avenues weren’t explored. It’s fine for paranormal romance — and forgive me if it sounds like I’m disparaging the genre as a whole, here, but I see a tendency to be largely forgiving of the absence of suffering in the characters when we talk about those tropes of the genre as a whole. It’s still a fun little read laced with some creepy stuff, and at the end of the day, you still walk away with the feeling that things are going to go pear-shaped before they’re perfect, so I have hope for the rest of the series.
In the meantime, however, I might just try my hand at Sunshine… I hear it’s got vampires.
About Nikki Rae
Nikki Rae is an independent author who lives in New Jersey. She explores human nature through fiction, concentrating on making the imaginary as real as possible. Her genres of choice are mainly dark, scary, romantic tales, but she’ll try anything once. When she is not writing, reading, or thinking, you can find her spending time with animals, drawing in a quiet corner, or studying people. Closely.
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Check it out: Goodreads
The small wooden box is dirty, the size of a human fist, and sealed with wax. When Corbin takes it upon herself to clean it and break the seal, a voice she has tried to ignore gathers strength. Shadows play on the walls at night, and with a family history of mental illness, Corbin fears the worst. But the voice tells her it is real. That its name is Six and it will prove it in time.
Drawn to this mysterious entity, Corbin isn't sure what to believe and the line between reality and her imagination blurs more every day.
Some doors should not be opened; can this one be closed?Buy on Amazon