“Blood is the first thing I see, covering the front of his white V-neck tee and down across his yellow swim trunks.”
As we open the book, we meet Vickie, enjoying the quiet of her family home in rural Tennessee. Quiet and peaceful until she hears her twin brother, Travis, screaming for help and emerging from the woods covered in blood.
If that isn’t enough to make you sit up and take notice, finding out that the blood is from 4 year old Michelle, their neighbor and family friend will. Even worse, Michelle was found stuffed inside a goat in what looks like Satanic Ritual.
This book! I devoured it. Seriously! I read this in less than a day. It is fast and intense. It draws you in from the very beginning and all you want to know is what’s going on! Who killed Michelle? And why?
“Anyone can step into these woods at any time. There is no fence. I’ve never thought about that before. Never worried. Never needed to. But now I do.”
S.E. Green does a fantastic job shedding doubt on every single person in Vickie’s life. I mean, everyone. It’s brilliant writing as you feel this building distrust right along Vickie. As she learns new information, or overhears snippets of conversation, you feel the unease right in your gut. You can’t help but feel that you are being led down a very dark path, but seeing the details of the path is murky and difficult. Which is fantastic horror.
Ultimate Sacrifice isn’t horror at every turn. But Green uses your discomfort and uneasiness to work against your imagination the entire time. It isn’t what’s happening, but what could happen, or what did happen that kicks your pulse into high gear. Because you know that you are being led somewhere. And that somewhere can’t be anyplace good.
“What is this life I now live that I took a gun into the woods earlier and am now sitting on my own porch with a butcher knife at my side?”
As we go through the days following this atrocious discovery, the funeral, the investigation, it becomes obvious to Vickie that there is some connection to Satanic ritual. Even though there seems to be a logical explanation, Vickie can’t help but see these connections everywhere she looks.
For Vickie, this murder is personal. She loved Michelle. She is frustrated at the police, at the news, even at her parents. She wants to know who killed her, not just for her own piece of mind, but to be able to mourn the little girl. You can feel her desperation as she makes her decisions, some questionable, some rash, but you understand them and her frantic state of mind. Her fear clouds her judgment, but as you read, you realize that your vision is clouded too.
I do think that a few characters and story lines could have been developed a touch more. It doesn’t take away from the reading, or the overall book, but it would have added more depth to the overall experience. But again, it doesn’t take away from the experience.
Ultimate Sacrifice is a book where you find yourself questioning everything. By the end, your hesitation to actually know only adds to the suspense and horror. And what an ending!
I am not going to spoil this book, because those last few pages are horrifying and shocking, which is exactly the ending a book like this needs. However, I will say, that it isn’t about predictability. Even if you suspected the ending, I would be surprised if you didn’t find it shocking nonetheless. Sometimes seeing the picture out of the dark shapes surrounding it makes it less scary. Sometimes it only highlights the gruesome reality. This book is definitely the latter. Seeing the details only shoves the horror from a vague discomfort in the pit of your stomach into a scream clawing its way out of your throat.
If you’re looking for a book this Halloween season that will make your skin tingle and the hair on the back of your neck rise, this is it. Ultimate Sacrifice releases October 9. Just in time to prepare you for Scream Season.
Thank you to OfTomes Publishing for the opportunity to read and review this book early!