"The settings described in the book were vivid and felt as though I could step into them from the page."
ebook ISBN: 978-1-926704-20-3
print ISBN: 978-1-926704-29-6
Scout never expected to wake up one day with a power that allowed her to jump into other worlds. She never expected God to tell her that she was special and destined for greatness. But most of all, she never expected to learn that her life as she knew it was fabricated to hide the dark secret of her true identity.
Provocative and enthralling, A Touch of Scarlet invites you into a world beyond good and evil where the truth is merely a matter of opinion.
AVAILABLE IN PRINT on AMAZON.COM!!!
Thank you to Clayton Bye for the review!
Click on the link to head over to Alternative-Read.com: http://tjbook-list.blogspot.com/2009/09/touch-of-scarlet-by-jessica-mchugh.html
Unusual, interesting and surprisingly good, A Touch of Scarlet pulled me into a world where good and evil are apparently meaningless or, at the very least, negotiable. I say surprising because I didn’t care for the way the story opened: the exposition was too intangible to hook me, and it left a feeling of dislike for the tale. However, once McHugh hit page 9 and settled into her storytelling, she never looked back.
A Touch of Scarlet is billed as fantasy and/or horror, yet it is also a tale of suspense. McHugh steadily ratchets up the tension with one question leading to yet another until all is revealed and you find yourself saying “AHhh…”
Copyright © Clayton Clifford Bye 2009
The heat and steam swarmed over me and wrapped around my body so tightly that every organ seemed to be crushed. I breathed in deeply to loosen the pressure, but the hot air rushed too quickly down my throat and I felt my innards suddenly expand and then burst into soupy bits that dripped down my ribcage. I could actually see my ravaged interior better than I could see my hazy surroundings and for a few moments I actually thought myself dead. Sensation had not fled me, so I first focused on recovering some normalcy of breath and then on escaping the asphyxiating chamber. I wanted to bolt away, but more than that, I wanted to fall. It wasn’t just the shower that was suffocating me—it was the room, the apartment, the world. I wanted to fall out and away from it all. It was with that desire that I suddenly felt a cold sensation around my feet. The shower floor began to teem with bubbles and with each churn the water grew icier and icier. As the frigid feeling crawled up my legs and moved into my fingertips it froze the veins in my arms. The darts of ice held still for a moment before suddenly shooting through my appendages and converging in my abdomen with a magnificent crash of frozen blood.
I lost all sight, all sense, and to the world, I was forgotten.
“Maybe I can help you,” he said with a grin that turned into a ghastly rictus that stretched his face unnaturally.
With his hand on my shoulder, he drew so close that I couldn’t help but focus on the prolonged contours of his face, the crevasses in his skin, and the way it hung loosely on the bone like dripping wax.
As he tightened his grip on my shoulder and his fingertips dug into my scapula, his face became even slacker. The flesh began to ooze down his cheekbones and fall off of his chin in soggy chunks. I screamed and struggled to break free, but he held me steadfast and brought his near-bare, sopping face close to mine with his teeth grinding together.
“Don’t you know who I am?” he growled, with his breath reeking of rotted meat. “I’ve been waiting for you.”
I thrashed madly against him and eventually I freed my arm and made contact with his face. His bone cracked with frightening ease, like putting my hand through an eggshell, and I shrieked as the skull detached from the neck and my hand became stuck in the man’s former cheek. But his hand continued to clutch my shoulder even tighter and send the sharp nails into my skin. I gasped at the pain and shrieked as he withdrew the tips, and before I could fight back, he pushed me into the dark watercolor that lay opposite. I didn’t get a good look at the place before I entered it, but I knew it was not a place I wanted to go.
I watched my breath cloud in front of me and hang solidly in the air. When I swiped my fingers through the white clouds, they split and rose into the darkening sky. The firmament changed from white to pink to pale blue, and my rising breaths created the great wisps of white therein. I smiled in amazement as the beautiful blond woman giggled. She led me forward then into the formerly white void which had become filled with sky-kissing towers of baby blue.
“You paint a pretty picture, Scout,” she said as she gazed up at the structures.
“What do you mean?” I asked, but when I stepped forward, the ground cracked beneath my foot and a perpendicular crevasse cut through the earth and filled with crystal water as it surged.
“In this place, you see what you want to see and can create whatever you wish,” she answered.
“Well, if I create the twists and turns, how do you know where you’re going?” I asked playfully.
“Because I created you.”
I hold more emotion in this small body than any other being ever has. My mind is broken. Not into two equal sides of good and evil but into many factions of gray. You think you know me. You think you can control me because I am yours. Well, I am not yours anymore. I belong to the aspirations of man. I am what they long to be. Before the end, you should know and accept that.”
“I cannot. I want you to be as you were born to be. I still see the good in you, Scout.”
“The good is there, for sure. But there is a stronger force within me. One that exceeds all others,” I replied.
“You’re trying to be proud, but I feel the struggle within you. The bits I created anew are trying to break free. I know you have regret because I can feel your sorrow. You know what you did was wrong.”
“The only sorrow I know comes from a residue of realization that the good of my life was a lie,” I responded.
“It’s not true. You’re not damned, Scout. I can save you.”
“I’m beyond salvation. Even if I weren’t, I would not accept your aid.”
“I am not the one who is trying to hurt you,” she said.
“It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what your intentions were. There’s no way to go back. We both need to live with the fact that you put me together wrong, and that because of it, I am the most magnificent being in all creation.”