REVIEW: Rose

Rami Ungar — Castrum Press — 19 June 2019 — 208 pages — Psychological Thriller

Rose Taggert awakens in a greenhouse with no clear memory of the past two years and, to her horror, finds her body transformed into an unrecognizable form.

Paris Kuyper has convinced Rose that they are lovers and as Paris could not bear for her to die, he has used an ancient and dark magic to save her from certain death.

But the dark magic Paris has used comes at a price. A price which a terrible demon is determined to extract from Rose.

As Rose struggles to understand what is happening to her, she must navigate Paris’s lies and secrets; secrets that Paris will do anything to protect.

Rose

Rose wakes after almost dying – apparently at the hands of her stalker – in what she finds to be the penthouse apartment of her boyfriend, Paris, a man and a relationship she doesn’t remember at all. He has done a spell from an ancient book, traded with the Japanese to get and passed down over generations, to save her life, unwilling to live without her, but the spell had some side-effects that Paris had not expected. Changes immediately begin to happen to her body… and that’s just the beginning of this story.

I fell in love with the cover and agreed to read this book based on that. I know I know, but for those of y’all who have been following my reviews for awhile, this should be something that doesn’t surprise you. I possibly skimmed through the book description, but… honestly… I don’t remember reading any of what I posted above [the cover image]. So who knows.

Despite my hinky reasoning behind agreeing to read a book…

This book was definitely not a disappointment. In fact, it was so good that I began it one night before bed (a habit I may one day blog about) and finished reading it around 3 in the morning, followed by writing pages – lots of them – in my journal about the book and how I felt about it. I just… had to let it all out and get my mind around everything that happened… and at 3 in the morning, there aren’t many people awake to hear you go on and on about a book you just finished.

It was one of those moments where you shut your Kindle and just sit there for a few minutes, unsure of what to do next.

The story was something quite different than what I normally find out there.

It was almost a mystery, with Rose having to figure out what is going on, not just to her physically, but around her as well, unsure of what to believe and who to trust. The addition of certain clues that make even the reader wonder if they are false or not really added to the story. Her changes made me think of a fantasy book, especially with magic being involved, and as usual with magic, things don’t always go the way that you have planned. The psychological thriller aspects of the whole thing were evident from almost the very beginning, when you see how characters interact with each other, and start finding out about their different pasts. There was even some horror added to the mix, when you consider one particular character you meet along the way, one who ends up being far more important to the story than you originally think.

Characters

Usually I can pick one or two characters from a story that I absolutely loved, but in this story I can’t say that I particularly liked any of them, but I must have, on some level, in order to have been unable to put the book down.

I was very curious about Rose and who she really was. As the description says, she can’t remember what’s happened over the last two years, but she knows herself and knows that some things that are being said just don’t make sense. Stories being told about her didn’t always add up to that knowledge, which left her confused at times, wondering if she could have really changed that much over the two years she seems to have lost. I found the way the author wrote her intriguing. In almost every story, the main character grows, but her growth was different, as it was more an actual finding herself, rather than a changing to become who she was truly meant to be. A well-done character.

Not all of the characters were who they originally seemed to be, and as more depth was added to them as the story progressed, you found out that some characters you didn’t like were ones that maybe weren’t as bad as they were made out to be, or once you heard their reasoning, you looked at them a little differently. That also happened with characters you took a liking to because, as the story progressed and you found out more about them, things came out that made you question your first impressions.

I wasn’t sure, as the story went on, if Rose was going to turn out to be the hero that the story needed, but in the end, she was definitely that.

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Interesting characters.
  • The ever-changing settings were not always described as much as I would have liked them to be, but all had a point and added to the story.
  • The underlying story of magic was intriguing and was obviously well-researched. The magic itself was almost like another character, as it had a lot of parts in the story, not just his use of magic to save her life.

Cons:

  • As I stated above, there wasn’t any particular character that, in the end, I can say was my favorite. Not an actual “con,” but something that usually bothers me when it comes to a story. In this case, though, it didn’t actually cause harm to the story, as the characters were interesting enough – and the story was intriguing enough – that I plowed through.
  • There were some editing issues that drove me bonkers, but I am hoping that they were just in the copy I received and didn’t make it to the final copy.

Final Thoughts

This is definitely a story that I would recommend to others, especially people who enjoy several genres, as this one could fit perfectly in more than one.

Just don’t blame me if you, too, are up until after 3 in the morning unable to put it down…

Rami Ungar knew he wanted to be a writer from the age of five, when he first became exposed to the world of Harry Potter and wanted to create imaginative worlds like Harry’s. As a tween, he fell in love with the works of Anne Rice and Stephen King and, as he was getting too old to sneak up on people and shout “Boo!’ (not that that ever stopped him), he decided to merge his two loves and become a horror writer.

Today, Rami lives and writes in Columbus, Ohio. He’s self-published three novels and one collection of short stories, and his stories have appeared in other publications here and there. Rose, his first novel with Castrum Press, was released June 21st, 2019.

When he’s not writing your nightmares or coming up with those, he’s enjoying anything from the latest horror novel or movie to anime and manga to ballet, collecting anything that catches his fancy, and giving you the impression he may not be entirely human.

Halloween Extravaganza: INTERVIEW: Rami Ungar

Meghan: Hey, Rami. Welcome to Meghan’s House of Books. It’s great to have you here today. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Rami Ungar: My name is Rami Ungar, and I’m a horror author from Columbus, Ohio. I first started writing with the goal of being published around age ten, and started gravitating towards horror after reading the works of Stephen King. I’ve previously self-published four books, with Rose being my first with a publisher. Along with King, my major influences include Anne Rice and HP Lovecraft.

Meghan: What are five things most people don’t know about you?

Rami Ungar: Tough question, as I’m an open book. But if I had to pick five, I would go with that I hate wearing socks; I am fascinated with Victorian England; I sometimes make homemade sushi, though it’s never restaurant-quality; the last movie I watched was The Best of Enemies with Taraji P. Henson and Sam Rockwell; and I’ve been to the FBI Headquarters in Washington, DC.

Meghan: What is the first book you remember reading?

Rami Ungar: Probably Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I’m sure there are others, but that one’s prominent in my memory, and was first responsible for making me want to write in the first place.

Meghan: What are you reading now?

Rami Ungar: At this moment, I’m reading The Institute by Stephen King, which is proving hard to put down. I’m also listening to The Complete Collection of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle on audio book.

Meghan: What’s a book you really enjoyed that others wouldn’t expect you to have liked?

Rami Ungar: When Marnie Was There by Joan G. Robinson. I first saw the movie, but the book has its own special magic to it.

Meghan: What made you decide you want to write? When did you begin writing?

Rami Ungar: I can’t remember what impetus made me decide to write. At some point around age ten, I realized I liked coming up with and writing down stories, so I decided to pursue that career. Sixteen years later, that dream’s coming to fruition, though there’s still a long road ahead of me.

Meghan: Do you have a special place you like to write?

Rami Ungar: Not exactly, I just sit at my desk at home and write on my laptop. That being said, I do try to make it as comfortable and conducive to creativity as possible.

Meghan: Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?

Rami Ungar: Not especially. I do tend to outline most of my stories I write them. And I like to have incense burning while I write and some music playing in the background, but that’s about it.

Meghan: Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

Rami Ungar: Staying focused on task, which is the bane of everyone who has ADHD like myself.

Meghan: What’s the most satisfying thing you’ve written so far?

Rami Ungar: I suppose my horror-thriller novel Snake. Throughout the writing process of that, it was just a lot of fun to work on, and I still think of that story when I think of stories that I had the most fun with.

Meghan: What books have most inspired you? Who are some authors that have inspired your writing style?

Rami Ungar: Obviously, King has been a great influence. IT made me realize what power horror has, and I’ve been trying to bring out the feeling that book left in young me in my readers ever since. I also think HP Lovecraft’s stories have been a powerful influence on me. I am fascinated by the idea of powerful entities that have no care for us but whose very presence can have profound effects on our lives.

Meghan: What do you think makes a good story?

Rami Ungar: That is so subjective, I’m not sure how to answer it. I guess with the stories I write, if it at least stays with you, maybe leaves you with a sense of disquiet, then that’s a good story.

Meghan: What does it take for you to love a character? How do you utilize that when creating your characters?

Rami Ungar: You know, I don’t know. I guess I fall in love with characters whom I want to hug and tell them it’s going to be alright, even when I’m the source for most of their problems. Which creates a conflict in me, so I don’t always use those sorts of characters.

Meghan: Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

Rami Ungar: Probably the protagonist of Snake, if only we have such a love of horror and slasher films, especially Jason Voorhees.

Meghan: Are you turned off by a bad cover? To what degree were you involved in creating your book covers?

Rami Ungar: Not always. Sometimes the covers hide the best stories. And except for Rose, I had a big hand in the creation of the covers for my stories. For Rose, my publisher took a bigger part in that, and I have to say, I like the results.

Meghan: What have you learned creating your books?

Rami Ungar: That good storytelling is always an ongoing process, and there’s always something new to learn.

Meghan: What has been the hardest scene for you to write so far?

Rami Ungar: There was a scene that left me so shaken that I had to take a walk to the convenience store, in the pouring rain, just to get my head on straight. However, since that story is unpublished and I still would like to put it out someday, I will keep that a secret.

Meghan: What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?

Rami Ungar: If I had to guess, I’d say my embracing of the weird. My stories involve girls turning into plant creatures, car races involving ghosts, and more stuff that just seems so ludicrous and strange that you wonder where they come from. It enhances the joy to put that stuff in the story, and I don’t know of any other writer who includes that sort of thing in their work.

Meghan: How important is the book title, how hard is it to choose the best one, and how did you choose yours (of course, with no spoilers)?

Rami Ungar: Not really. More often than not, the title makes itself known to me early on. If it doesn’t, it comes to me while writing the story, and I am like, “That works. Let’s use it.”

Meghan: What makes you feel more fulfilled: Writing a novel or writing a short story?

Rami Ungar: Writing a novel. Novels require a lot more research, planning, and work, so seeing them through to the end, as well as watching each subsequent draft become better and better, is extremely satisfying. Not to mention seeing the book possibly published.

Meghan: Tell us a little bit about your books, your target audience, and what you would like readers to take away from your stories.

Rami Ungar: One book is called The Quiet Game, and it’s a short collection of stories I wrote in college. I also have a sci-fi trilogy called the Reborn City series, about street gangs in a dystopian future. So far, two books in the series, Reborn City and Video Rage, have been published. Snake is a horror-thriller about a serial killer hunting down members of a powerful mafia family in New York. And Rose follows a young woman who starts turning into a plant creature (and that’s just the start of her problems).

Meghan: Can you tell us about some of the deleted scenes/stuff that got left out of your work?

Rami Ungar: The only ones worthy of mentioning are from Rose. In that book, there were a lot of flashback scenes in earlier drafts, which really made the protagonist a complex character. However, those scenes didn’t contribute much to the plot, so I ended up cutting them out around draft four or five. Was worth it, in the end.

Meghan: What can we expect from you in the future?

Rami Ungar: I have another novel I plan to edit as soon as the beta reader is done with it. I also have a project I plan to start in November for National Novel Writing Month. And I’m putting together a collection of short stories, though I’m not sure at this time when it will be done.

Meghan: Where can we find you?

Rami Ungar: Blog ** Email ** Facebook ** Twitter ** Instagram ** YouTube

Meghan: Do you have any closing words for your fans or anything you’d like to say that we didn’t get to cover in this interview?

Rami Ungar: If you’re a horror fan, never let anyone shame you for it. Just enjoy the stories you enjoy, and let others know that you do. There’s a lovely group of fans around the world, full of some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, and they love a good story as much as you do.

Rami Ungar knew he wanted to be a writer from the age of five, when he first became exposed to the world of Harry Potter and wanted to create imaginative worlds like Harry’s. As a tween, he fell in love with the works of Anne Rice and Stephen King and, as he was getting too old to sneak up on people and shout “Boo!’ (not that that ever stopped him), he decided to merge his two loves and become a horror writer.

Today, Rami lives and writes in Columbus, Ohio. He’s self-published three novels and one collection of short stories, and his stories have appeared in other publications here and there. Rose, his first novel with Castrum Press, was released June 21st, 2019.

When he’s not writing your nightmares or coming up with those, he’s enjoying anything from the latest horror novel or movie to anime and manga to ballet, collecting anything that catches his fancy, and giving you the impression he may not be entirely human.

Snake

How far will you go for love and revenge? When a young man’s girlfriend is kidnapped by the powerful Camerlengo Family, he becomes the Snake, a serial killer who takes his methods from the worst of the Russian mafia. Tracking down members of the Camerlengo Family one by one for clues, the Snake will go to any lengths to see the love of his life again…even if it means becoming a worse monster than any of the monsters he is hunting.

Rose

Rose Taggert awakens in a greenhouse with no clear memory of the past two years and, to her horror, finds her body transformed into an unrecognizable form.

Paris Kuyper has convinced Rose that they are lovers and as Paris could not bear for her to die, he has used an ancient and dark magic to save her from certain death.

But the dark magic Paris has used comes at a price. A price which a terrible demon is determined to extract from Rose.

As Rose struggles to understand what is happening to her, she must navigate Paris’s lies and secrets; secrets that Paris will do anything to protect.