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River of Ashes (St. Benedict)

Rating 4 of 5

Self-control in all things. Never let anyone see who you really are.
To him, love meant possession, rage, power—not some fuzzy, warm fairy tale.

Trigger Warnings: Rape, violence, and a psychopath point of view. Alexandrea Weis has a note at the end which discusses some important elements to these topics that I think everyone should read even if they don't read the book.

In St. Benedict the high school students like to spend their Friday nights hanging out by the river at the abandoned Abbey. Beau Devereaux, son of the wealthiest family in town, owns the area. Or so he thinks. Beau uses the river and the Abbey to commit unspeakable acts of violence against those he feels have wronged him. How does he keep them silent? Through threats and intimidation. Beau has his sites set on Leslie the sister of his current girlfriend Dawn. As Beau's infatuation grows his victim toll mounts. Beau must be stopped. A number of people will die.

I heard a lot about this book before I was given the opportunity to review it myself. And let me just say it lived up to the hype and then some. I don't think I expected just how dark and intense this one was going to be. The authors tell the story through the point of view of Leslie, Dawn, and the very entitled Beau. The whole novel is focused around Beau's unnatural obsession with Leslie, the only person in town it seems isn't scared of him. It doesn't take long before Beau's obsession takes a lethal turn that will leave intense devastation.

The book covers some very intense topics, mostly from the perspective of the one committing the crimes. I think it was this viewpoint which made the situations so difficult. This book is not for the faint hearted and is not a light read at all. You should go into this one expecting some emotional reactions. I really don't know how to do the book justice. It was amazingly well written and the characters were intense.

I struggled at times with the fact that these were high school students simply because of how intense it was. This book delves into the dark mind of a psychopath with an intensity I have never seen before. The book is a slow build with the action, but once it takes off it does not relent. And the ending... I think I'll be processing this one for a long time to come.

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