“Dead Eleven” by Jimmy Juliano is an impactful and poignant horror story that takes its readers to the dark and haunted shores of Clifford Island, a place where grief and pain become manifest.

Jimmy Juliano’s Dead Eleven is an ambitious and rewarding reading experience that offers plenty of chills and scares. If an engaging horror story is what you need right now then read on to learn more about this fantastic thriller that’ll definitely give you some serious goosebumps!

An Island With a Horrifying Past…

Dead Eleven begins with the disappearance of Willow, a woman that experienced a life-altering tragedy that brought her to the secluded Clifford Island located deep within Lake Michigan. With Clifford Island the last known place Willow was known to be, Harper, Willow’s brother, begins an investigation to find her. As soon as Harper steps onto the island, surreal oddities begin to occur and he finds himself becoming entwined in the dark history of the island’s inhabitants.

I cannot praise this novel enough. To begin with, Dead Eleven delivers a unique storytelling format that makes for a gripping read. The chapters are constantly changing in mediums and narration, such as going from third person omniscient to first person then an audio transcript in the next. I’ve found that rapidly shifting narration can be a hindrance to my reading experience if not done tactfully, but that’s certainly not the case with Dead Eleven. Juliano expertly uses different mediums between chapters to control the pacing and relay information as effectively as possible. One such instance is through the audio transcripts of interviews done between characters. Reading the transcript is easy-breezy, yet hearing characters responding to questions that make them uncomfortable is incredible in its execution. Dead Eleven executes the found-footage style perfectly and has a fantastic pay-off for its trouble.

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Rich, compelling characters are abundant throughout this story. Every character, no matter their significance, has an identifiable change that they go through. I was deeply impressed with how much I empathized and cared for each character of the large cast, especially the “villains.” I found myself often questioning the morality of the characters and pondered what I would do if I found myself in the story’s world or certain character’s positions. I still don’t know where I’d fall. This introspection, while unexpected, is welcome and speaks greatly of the novel’s quality.

Dead Eleven’s True Terror Exists Beyond the Tangible Terrors of Clifford Island

Grief

One of the most defining motifs of this novel is grief. Clifford Island and the entity that lurks within are scary in nature, but the real horror comes from the never-ending grief that surrounds the island’s inhabitants. Grief is the weapon of the islanders that they willing inflict upon themselves to satiate the supernatural entity threatening them. While I found the core of the novel freaky, I was truly horrified at the islander’s methods to contain it. It’s like a perpetually mending bone that they purposefully break again each day, never allowing it to heal till they forget that it ever could. Grief also serves as the primary motivator for the characters in the story. I know I make it seem bleak, but Juliano’s writing does a fantastic job of exploring the theme of grief without losing itself to it.

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Mimicry

One of my favorite horror tactics is mimicry, and this novel uses it expertly. The supernatural horror of Clifford Island manifests itself in wonderfully terrifying ways and the novel never lets up with its deliveries. It’s a very thrilling dynamic that allows for many great scenes and moments of character development. The mimicry also plays directly into the theme of grief and attempts to exploit the emotion, often by trying to bury someone with guilt and remorse. With the novel’s constant use of misdirection it becomes difficult to decipher what’s real versus pure imitation. Mimicry and grief are inseparably intertwined in this story, and seeing how they play on each other is nothing but thrilling.

A Greater Evil

A primary question the novel explores is how far people are willing to go to combat a greater evil. The characters are resolute in their individual approaches, but their morality turns grey very quickly. As people are lied to and betrayed, as innocent people are used against their will, and personal motivations become selfish, it becomes apparent that there are no easy, definitive answers to this question. Each reader will have to decide for themselves where that line is drawn and if it’s worth crossing.

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Conclusion

Though dealing with intense subject matters, Jimmy Juliano does a great job at keeping the tone of Dead Eleven from becoming too dark while still maintaining a sense of seriousness. I readily recommend Dead Eleven to anyone open to the thriller and horror genres.

Dead Eleven is a powerful and confident story. It ensures that there’s novelty in each chapter, and great characters make for a compelling and thought-provoking experience amidst the heart-pounding thrills. This book is a feast for veteran thriller readers and newbies alike. Should you desire some goosebumps, I highly recommend you pick up this book.

Strangely Awesome Games Staff
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