Saturday, July 30, 2011

Book Review - The Skull Ring by Scott Nicholson - July 30, 2011

The Skull Ring

Kindle Book
Published 2010
Source:  Provided to me for review by Scott Nicholson

About the Book:

 Dr. Pamela Forrest is determined to bring Julia's memories to the surface, hoping to heal Julia's panic disorder. The therapist keeps returning Julia to a night twenty-three years ago when Julia was four. A night of hooded figures, strange chants, pain, and blood. The night her father disappeared from the face of the earth.

Julia rebuilds the past a piece at a time during the mind-wrenching therapy sessions. But the line between the past and the present begins to blur. Julia finds a silver skull ring that bears the name "Judas Stone." The same ring had been worn by one of the hooded figures who scarred her both mentally and physically on that long-ago night.

Someone is leaving strange messages inside her house, even though the door is locked. The religious handyman, who has a key, spends a lot of time in the woods behind her house. Her boyfriend Mitchell becomes distant and violent. And the cop who investigated her father's disappearance has followed her to the small Appalachian town of Elkwood.

Now she has a head full of memories, but she doesn't know which are real and which are the creations of Dr. Forrest. The shadows of Julia's panic are growing larger and darker. But succumbing to madness seems safer than heeding the whispers of the master who claims ownership of her body and soul.

About the Author:

Author Scott Nicholson has written 12 thrillers, 60 short stories, four comics series, and six screenplays. He's also a freelance editor and journalist. He lives in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, where he tends an organic garden, successfully eludes stalkers, and generally lives the dream. He's online at


Nicholson has written hundreds of songs and poems and was a musician in a former life. a newspaper reporter, he's won three North Carolina Press Association awards. He's had the usual collection of odd jobs: dishwasher, carpenter, painter, paranormal investigator, baseball card dealer, and radio announcer. Now he haphazardly trades words for magic beans and uses "haphazardly" as often as possible while decrying the overuse of adverbs.

Entering the digital era with a vengeance, Nicholson is relasing orginal titles and collections while conspiring to release interactive books in the near future, building audio files, video, and collaborative fiction projects. He operates Haunted Computer Books and Indie Books Blog to bring a variety of voices to readers.

Nicholson won the grand prize in the international Writers of the Future contest in 1999. That same year, he was first runner-up for the Darrell Award. He studiedCreative Writing at Appalachian State University and UNC-Chapel Hill. He has been an officer of Mystery Writers of America and Horror Writers Association and is a member of International Thriller Writers and inaugural member of the Killer Thriller Band.

Unfortunately, they never taught him to write: he had 105 rejections before his first story sale and over 400 before he sold a novel. He hasn't learned much from his mistakes but thinks he'll probably improve with practice. If nothing else, he's become a better liar.

His website features author interviews, articles, and fiction excerpts. Bad relationship advice. Humor. Gardening tips. Subliminal tricks to sell his books. That sort of thing.

Frequently asked questions
Freshdirt: Scott's journal
The Vault
Scott's appearances action!
Finalist, 1998 Writers of the Future
1999 Hubbard Gold Award
1999 First Runner-Up for Darrell Award
Honorable Mentions, 1999,2000, and 2002 Year's Best Fantasy & Horror
Locus Magazine new & notable list, 2002
Semifinals, 2002 Chesterfield Film Writers Competition
Finalist, Stoker Award for Best First Novel, 2003
Semifinals, 2003 Chesterfield Film Writers Competition
2006 Year's Best Fantasy & Horror
Favorite Writers: William Goldman, Ira Levin, John Steinbeck, Shirley Jackson, Dr. Seuss, H.G. Wells, Ray Bradbury, Mark Twain, Elmore Leonard, Richard Brautigan, Kurt Vonnegut, James M. Cain, Jim Thompson, Stephen King, James Lee Burke

Favorite Music: The Cure, Robyn Hitchcock, David Bowie, The Replacements, Paul Westerberg, XTC, Kate Bush, The Smiths, Elvis Costello, Hank Williams, Natalie Merchant, Beatles, Who, The Strokes, Clem Snide, The Smashing Pumpkins, Tegan And Sara, Pink Floyd

Favorite Movies: Il Buono, il Bruto, il Cattivo (The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly); The Princess Bride; Shrek; Night of the Living Dead; The Shining; The Big Lebowski; Carnival of Souls (the original, of course); The Outlaw Josey Wales; Magic; Silence of the Lambs; Sling Blade; Invasion of the Body Snatchers; Unforgiven; The Shawshank Redemption; She's Having A Baby; Little Miss Sunshine; Cape Fear; A Simple Plan

Favorite Artists: Rene Magritte, Salvador Dali, Peter Brueghel, Francisco Goya, M.C. Escher, Heironymous Bosch, Albrecht Duhrer, Dr. Seuss

Decadent Delights: sushi, pickled okra, olives, artichoke hearts, brie, tomatilla salsa, cheesecake, sweet potato pie, butter-broiled garlic, squash casserole, frozen lime bars, iced coffee (gee, I must be preganant)
Drop me a line at hauntedcomputer AT to say hi or sign up for myfree newsletter.

My Review:

Excellent - I look forward to reading more of his books!

The story takes place in Elkwood, North Carolina.  When Julia was 4 years old, her dad disappeared.  She has some kind of scars on her stomach, and she thinks it was part of a satanic ritual.  She isn't sure how involved her dad would have been in this ritual. Also, Julia thinks she is being stalked by some kind of a creep.  She is going to counseling with Dr. Pamela Forrest to try to help her.  Dr. Forrest is trying to help Julia remember what happened to her when she was younger. It's really hard for Julia to go back to those memories, and she would rather just forget about them.  She is having weird dreams too.

There is another character in the story that is trying to help her, but she is warned to stay away from this person.  It's hard to know who she can really trust.  Not only does she see some kind of creep, but there is something weird going on with her digital clock and the blocks on the coffee table.

When reading this I could tell Scott Nicholson has a sense of humor.  Here is  a quote and you will see why:

"A Creep in a jeep? Sounded too much like Dr. Seuss to be dangerous.  Silly.  A coy boy with a toy, bark in the dark, a mental muddle puddle.  Still the adrenaline jolt tingled her nerves at a hundred amps and caused her fingers to twitch."  (Kindle loc. 113-114)

 I also liked this quote:

"A real man doesn't mind a little meat on the bone."  (Kindle loc. 782-83)

I read a lot of this book in the car on a family trip.  I went to a concert that night (Slayer/Rob Zombie!!).  When we got back to where we were staying at 1:00 a.m., I couldn't sleep so I tried to read more of this book.  My ears were ringing, so it was a little tough to concentrate.  Plus, it seemed like it was going to get really scary, and everyone else was sleeping.  I decided to put the book down until the next day.  It really didn't end up as scary as I thought it would be.  I know there was talk of creeps and everything, but it wasn't an overly scary book.

Overall, I enjoyed the book and was not sure who in the book could be trusted and who couldn't.   It was full of suspense and really kept me guessing.  I really look forward to reading more by Scott Nicholson!  The ending was totally unexpected too!

My Rating

4/5 Diamonds - Recommend!

Buy the book at:

Disclaimer:  My thoughts on this book were in no way influenced by the author or publicist. They are my personal reflections based solely on MY experience while reading this novel.

© 2011, Cheryl of Black Diamond’s Book Reviews. All Rights Reserved. If you reading this on a site other than blackdiamondsbookrev.fatcow.comUrban Image Magazine, or Cheryl’s feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.