Dead Scared

The Mortsafeman Trilogy Book One

Young Adult - Horror
344 Pages
Reviewed on 09/02/2019
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

Dead Scared: The Mortsafeman Trilogy, Book One is a horror novel for young adults written by Ivan Blake. Being the new kid in school is problematic at best, especially when it’s high school, and the town is a small and insular mill town in Maine. Everyone knew everyone else in Bemishstock, Maine, a once thriving industrial center that now had only one manufacturer still operating a plant there, Allied Paper Products of Wisconsin. And while no one could actually say that they enjoyed the stink and air pollution that went along with a paper production plant, the fact that Chris Chandler was the son of the man who was spearheading Allied Paper’s move to shut the plant down made him even more despised in school. Chris’s very presence symbolized the death of Bemishstock, and the other students, and their parents, were not at all circumspect in their desire to strike back at him. Finding his locker dripping with pig’s blood was commonplace, but being hauled up before the sheriff for things he didn’t do was driving Chris to a feeling of desperation he would never have imagined before. He still couldn’t understand why his father had taken this position with the company; why they moved to this awful town; and why his mom didn’t laugh and smile as she used to. Then, the richest, cutest and most popular girl in his class suddenly seemed to notice him, and while he knew her bully boyfriend would probably make him regret it, he couldn’t resist the feeling, finally, of being accepted.

Ivan Blake’s young adult dark fantasy novel, Dead Scared: The Mortsafeman Trilogy, Book One, is an intense and brooding tale that delivers. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as getting wrapped up in a good, old fashioned horror story, and Blake’s plot had me instantly hooked. I loved the gloomy New England atmosphere, and was suitably spooked by the creepy defrocked British chiropractor who had a goat farm and a very dark secret. Chris is a grand main character; he’s strong, resourceful and someone I’d want on my side in a tough situation. Blake’s plot is cunning and dark and has a fascinating historical background, and his characters are believable and complex. His writing is often lyrically lovely, but this never gets in the way of the action and horror that this book is steeped in. I’m eagerly anticipating the next book in Blake’s The Mortsafeman Trilogy and most highly recommend Dead Scared.

Rabia Tanveer

Dead Scared is the first book in The Mortsafeman Trilogy by Ivan Blake. Chris Chandler is a 17-year-old who is trying to make sense of his life. He is used to moving from one place to the other and with people hating him on sight because of his father’s job with Allied Paper Products. A social pariah, he has started to take refuge in the local cemetery where he enjoys the solitude. Mallory, the most popular girl in the school, befriends him and soon he realizes that there is something different about her, something that rings all the wrong bells for him. However, his peaceful existence is disturbed when he finds himself in the middle of a demon and a grave robber. He was already treated badly, but this is something that he cannot shake off. He now has to look for a way to find out why all of this is happening and try to stay alive at the same time.

I read the second book in the series before I read this one, so this gave me a good preview of what happened at first. I now have a newfound appreciation for Chris’s development. I enjoyed finding out what actually happened with Mallory, what was the reason behind it, and how maturely Chris handled the situation. The mystery in this novel is exceptionally well-developed. The Goat Man gave me chills and I really didn’t like Mallory at all. The author set the tone much darker and a lot spookier; I had goosebumps reading certain cemetery scenes. I am now officially in love with Ivan Blake’s writing style. The way he describes things, brings life to the scenes and give depth to his characters is truly phenomenal. I now believe that his novels are perfect for the upcoming Halloween season. I cannot wait to read more from Blake and find out what more he has in store for us.

Dan M. Kalin

Ivan Blake has written a gripping thriller in Dead Scared: The Mortsafeman Trilogy Book One which smoothly evolves into a horror tale one shouldn't read late at night. Chris Chandler is a high school student in Maine who has trouble fitting into the small mill town of Bemishstock. He tells himself the primary reason for it is his father's role of corporate hatchet man, there to close the underperforming paper mill. But attitude counts and Chris finds he has few friends in the town. But when the most popular girl in school begins to show an interest, things seem to be headed in the right direction. But Chris soon learns there is more to it than he imagines. As Chris navigates the obstacles, he faces true evil, in both the spiritual and material realms. Can he prevent his adversaries from hurting those he loves?

Dead Scared had me picking it up to read just a few more pages minutes after putting it down. The story is well written and tightly edited to present a compelling narrative. Ivan Blake's characters, especially those supporting Chris, have depth and substance. Those in opposition have reasons to behave the way they do, even if the reasons aren't particularly good ones. A reader can easily place themselves within the day-to-day environment of a clannish small town and visualize the setting. The concept of Mortsafemen, guardians or safe-keepers of the dead, was deftly woven into the tapestry without overwhelming the plot. As a result, the series is well-positioned to extend the story in what will surely be interesting ways.

K.C. Finn

Dead Scared is a work of horror fiction aimed at young adults and was penned by author Ivan Blake. Forming the first book in The Mortsafeman Trilogy, the action centers around seventeen-year-old Chris Chandler, who is moved to Maine by his father in 1985. Hated everywhere he goes because of his father’s work, Chris is a loner who spends his time hanging around in graveyards and generally being gloomy, but his new town of Bemishstock may change everything. Once he meets a strange Goat Man and a beautiful, popular girl who is surely too good to be true, Chris finds his dangerous nature becoming more useful by the minute.

A slow-burning but effective series opener, Dead Scared introduces us to some excellent concepts and characters amid the visually rich atmosphere of a 1980s horror classic. Author Ivan Blake has a talent for scene setting that makes each new chapter feel cinematic and exciting, and this skill also lends itself to the dynamic yet realistic dialogue of Chris and his new would-be friends. I was fascinated by Mallory from the start, and though the supernatural elements of this first book are a little low-key, the sensational final segment of the story really rockets the whole concept up a notch, setting things up superbly for its continuation. With plenty of teenage drama and a build-up of cool, retro horror tropes to whet the appetite, it’s clear that Dead Scared will soon become an old favorite for young adult readers seeking a new horror fix.