Review: The Isle of Sin and Shadows by Keri Lake





In the Louisiana swamplands, ghost stories are as much a part of childhood as chasing fireflies and crawfishing. They never much scared me, though, nor the possibility of evil out to do me harm. Until the night I watched shadows come to life and butcher everything I loved.

With a stranger’s help, I managed to escape to an isolated place miles north, and, in time, became my own ghost story. A cautionary tale for the locals.

Nearly a decade passed, before I returned to my birthplace, in hopes of unearthing long-awaited answers. Instead, I found something I wasn’t looking for. Someone. A remedy for my loneliness.

Or so I thought.

Turns out, Thierry Bergeron is no elixir. He’s a deadly poison, cursed by the demons of his past, and feared by those who call him the elusive Rougarou of the bayou. A devious rogue, whose seductive whispers and rough hands haunt my dreams. The big bad wolf that defiles me without apology, or remorse.

I should resist him, but I can’t.


Reviewed by Dakota Watson

Trigger warnings: blood, gore, violence, human trafficking, mental illness, disability, ritual murder, suicide, rape, explicit sex scenes, knife play

If the above trigger warning list is anything to go by, The Isle of Sin and Shadows by Keri Lake won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. Do not take the trigger warnings lightly as the scenes they address are depicted with graphic and vivid detail, contributing to an intensely dark atmosphere.

Despite the unsettling nature of these dark elements, Keri skillfully weaves an exquisitely creepy narrative within this story’s framework, promising to elicit goosebumps and captivate readers with its unique tale. The world building in the narrative is robust, providing a solid foundation for the story. Keri’s prose stands out for its exceptional beauty, skillfully integrating folklore and occult elements. Within this framework, she crafts a hauntingly beautiful love story that resonates with darkness. The cast of characters she introduces adds depth and richness to the tale, contributing to a compelling and immersive reading experience.

Celeste, the FMC was depicted with exquisite craftsmanship. Kerri skillfully conveyed Celeste’s fragility, showcasing her emotional numbness resulting from a series of traumatic incidents during her upbringing. The delicate intricacies of Celeste’s mental state were meticulously crafted, a testament to Kerri’s writing prowess. Kudos to her for not only illustrating Celeste as beautifully broken but also for portraying her strength. Despite the challenges, Kerri successfully guided the reader to empathize with Celeste and root for her resilience rather than fostering pity.

When we are introduced to Thierry’s character, he is presented as an emotionally detached, ruthless, and cold-blooded killer, capable of committing atrocious acts. However, as the story unfolds, Kerri adeptly and gradually unveils the layers of Thierry’s character, providing insights into his traumatic past. Through carefully crafted scenes told from Thierry’s point of view, the reader is skillfully guided to understand the events that shaped him into the person he has become. There were moments in the book, particularly in Thierry’s POV, that evoked visceral reactions that made me go, “God, no, no, no!” These scenes, though brutal, instilled a genuine desire for happiness and inner peace for Thierry, showcasing Kerri’s ability to evoke empathy and complexity in her characters.

The physical intimacy scenes between Celeste and Thierry, while notably explicit, were artfully crafted. The initial sarcastic banter between them at the beginning of the story laid the groundwork for a dynamic relationship where they complemented and gradually healed each other as the narrative unfolded. The beauty of their connection was revealed in the subtle progression of their interactions, transforming initial tension into a profound and meaningful bond. The author’s skillful portrayal of their relationship added depth to the narrative, making the intimate moments a poignant and integral part of the story’s overall beauty.

Despite the profoundly dark themes, replete with heartbreak, betrayals, and unexpected plot twists, this story stands out as an exceptional contribution to the dark romance genre. The intricately woven narrative, laden with its intense emotional weight, transforms the book into a compelling and exceptional piece of literature. The exploration of the shadows within the romance genre, coupled with the unexpected twists and turns, elevates the story, making it a captivating and memorable experience for readers who appreciate the complexity and depth found in dark romance.

My only issue with this book lies in the pacing. While I am a fervent supporter of in-depth world building and character development, certain chapters tended to be excessively lengthy and slow paced. While I appreciate the commitment to a detailed exploration of the world and characters, a more balanced pacing could have enhanced the overall reading experience.

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