Villainous Minds

Psychological Thrillers

Fiction - Thriller - Psychological
114 Pages
Reviewed on 09/14/2021
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

A multi-genre author from the western USA, living a mild-mannered life with a wild imagination. I enjoy writing dark fiction and fantastical poetry, as well as blogging on my website.

A sometimes-twisted mind with a heart full of roses.

Retired from "working for the man", I now enjoy living for my passions of writing, art, fishing, traveling, dogs/cats, sci-fi/fantasy/paranormal books and movies - and contemplating the secrets of the universe.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Shrabastee Chakraborty for Readers' Favorite

Villainous Minds is an anthology of five extremely harrowing tales penned by Joan Wiley. If you believe that nothing horrific can faze you, spend a day with the characters in this book. How does a peaceful camping trip turn into a bloodbath? How will you banish a parasitic demon inhabiting your soul without harming yourself first? How about a brush with death transforming you from an egotistic, spiteful person to someone conscientious, only to drag you down again? How long will you tolerate insanity before it overshadows your life and engulfs your future? What about seeking immoral and torturous ways to fulfill your deepest, most secret desires? Come, take a tour through these violent, gory, twisted tales.

The title was both self-explanatory and cautionary. Opening the pages ensured a journey into a fathomless abyss of the deranged human psyche. Reading these oddly disturbing, extremely chilling tales resembled going through a serpentine maze. Every moment spent reading Villainous Minds gave me a sense of foreboding. With a sickening feeling in my stomach, I would realize exactly what was going wrong. By then, it would be too late, and I would be helplessly watching as the lunacy devoured the characters and everything surrounding them. What amazed me was the ease with which Joan Wiley navigated such all-encompassing madness. I would wholeheartedly recommend this collection to anyone who appreciates dark psychological thrillers. At the same time, I should warn readers that this book is not for the faint-hearted.

Lesley Jones

Villainous Minds by Joan Wiley is a collection of five short stories that will draw you into the dark and nefarious world of the human mind. How disturbed and irrational can a human become when their barriers of morality are lost? Many people can rationalize and overcome emotions such as guilt, betrayal, dishonesty, and manipulation over a period of time. Discover what happens when a twisted perception of reality takes control of the mind and they are intent on acting out their own form of horrifying justice. The stories include Debbie and Will, who decide to take a camping trip after the death of her father. They both have different plans on how to spend her inheritance. As the truth of their intentions unfolds, will either of them emerge from the wilderness? Veela-Ray was cold-hearted and callous toward others; she fears no one and treads on anyone who gets in her way. However, a train journey would suddenly change her forever. As Vee emerges from the darkness, so does a person from her past with a deadly game of chance. Finally, C.B. Williams dreams of a loving future with the woman of his dreams. His controlling mother has other ideas. When C.B. discovers her new business enterprise, he has to take drastic action to stop her. As the business draws C.B. into a depraved world, his mother focuses her attention on maintaining control of her son by whatever means possible.

Each of these compelling stories will make you gasp with horror at the twisted behavior and mindsets of the characters. Prepare yourself for the unexpected; there is a shocking twist around every corner. The characters are deep, interesting, and vivid and will make you want to rationalize their behavior. As humans, we always try to see the best in people and calculate reasoning for their actions. Throughout Villainous Minds, I found myself trying to comprehend how a person could act so immoral and vengeful. This is a superb example of how the ego can become your worse enemy as it leads you down a path of believing your horrific actions are justified. I also loved how each story highlighted how a normal person has a breaking point, and this was especially apparent in the actions of C.B. Williams. I admired how Joan Wiley placed tiny details throughout the stories, which became important plot points later on, such as Debbie’s dyed hair. The tales will touch the deepest recesses of your mind and make you ponder your personal barriers and morals. Who is the protagonist and who is the antagonist? This is for you to decide. Superb, riveting, and highly recommended.

Stefan Vucak

Boneyard of the Fallen: Will schemed to lay his hands on Debbie’s millions … then tried to murder her. The ending was not as satisfying as he had planned. Dukha’s Gifts: Living in a dead man’s body, Dukha loved the rapturous feeling of real-world existence. Jonara had other plans for Dukha … sending him back to hell. But was she willing to pay the price? The Deep Dark: Every day, Veela Ray walked among the employees handing out dismissal notices, reprimands, and weeding out company slackers. A man shot her, but she lived somehow, changed, fearing she would revert to her old self. Her former lover enters her life and things became drastically complicated. The Cat’s Meow: Cecil Beaumont Williams’ mother has a dark secret, which he discovered when she asked him to clean out her basement. When she took from him something precious, there was only one thing he could do. Rise of the Dragon: This was the third time Scott brought Mary to the point of terminal strangulation. She had to get rid of him before he destroyed her. How? By inflicting on him the kind of pain he inflicted on her, but much worse.

With Villainous Minds, Joan Wiley thrusts readers into dark corridors of the mind, where some might not be willing to venture. Five stories of women fighting their nightmares, themselves, and men, not always succeeding. Superbly written and entertaining, Wiley will relentlessly pull readers into her world of the macabre. Once in her grip, there is no escape. Each story is a psychological thriller, an exploration into darkness that is within all of us. Some may not want to venture there, but those prepared to clench their teeth will find the journey sobering. Not for bedtime reading.

Jennifer Ibiam

Villainous Minds by Joan Wiley is a book of five short stories that will appeal to lovers of psychological thrillers. In “Boneyard of the Fallen,” Debbie is a rich woman who is stuck among a greedy husband, a vengeful brother, and a deceitful friend. Who dies first? Debbie or the trio? “Dukha’s Gifts” shows how the state of mind can determine the energies you receive. In “The Deep Dark,” Veela runs the show as a terrible woman. When life happens, she changes her ways. However, she must bring back the brutal Vee when her survival is threatened. Change is constant, they say, but Millie doesn’t think so in “The Cat’s Meow.” The price of change is high, maybe deadly. The “Rise of the Dragon” features two psychotic doctors, Mary and Scott, who thrive on inflicting pain. What happens when they become the recipients?

Villainous Minds by Joan Wiley is unique, yet very interesting. The general premise is human nature with themes such as survival, psychological war, and energies. Every person has a dark side, the depth of which we may not know. I loved all the stories, and it was hard to pick a favorite. However, Dukha’s Gifts struck me the most because it was the reality of humans. There are constant wars where both factions believe they’re right, from religion to race, ethnicity, economic status, and emotion. We open our minds and become receptive to varying ideologies, feelings, etc. which take root as we become propagating vessels. "Rise of the Dragon" was another story that made me think about our power as humans. We take pleasure in wielding power and inflicting pain on others. Will we grow a conscience after tasting the same pain or become more hardened? Villainous Minds is a riveting book, and Wiley should write more.

Stephanie Chapman

Villainous Minds: Psychological Thrillers by Joan Wiley is a short story collection. There are five individual stores: Boneyard of the Fallen, Dukha's Gifts, The Deep Dark, The Cat's Meow, and Rise of The Dragon. Every story has well-developed characters and sinister plots that range from murder to even a BDSM setting with a disturbed mind. The first story starts with Debbie and Will, a married couple on a camping trip to help revitalize their marriage. The story has an abundance of twists that come out of the left field, and the actual villain isn't revealed until the very end. The second story encompasses a demonic spirit's possession of a dying body. The Deep Dark is a tragic story of Vee who is left with a gunshot wound that destroys her memory. The Cat's Meow is told from the view of C.B. in a situation he is all too familiar with until he opens a refrigerator. The final story shows Mary fighting her inner conscience named Eleanor. She derives pleasure from pain and has found a willing partner. Does she carry her fantasy too far?

Villainous Minds: Psychological Thrillers is not for the faint of heart. Joan Wiley keeps the stories short but fills them with enough detail so that I had no problem visualizing the characters and their surroundings. I cannot pick an individual story that I favored over the others; they all had my full attention. I was able to connect with the main character in all the stories except Dukha's Gifts. Likewise, I am certain that Wiley fully intended for me to hate Dukha, especially since he is a demonic spirit. The Cat's Meow was tragic but not tragic at the same time, and I found myself rooting for the cat throughout the story. This is a 5-star story collection that mature adults who like unpredictable thrillers will enjoy. There is a lot of blood and gore, but the explicit scenes are not detailed. There is a realistic nature to every story, and I look forward to reading future work from Joan Wiley.