Twin Lakes: Autumn Fires by

Twin Lakes-Autumn Fire_Michelle Garza_Melissa Lason.jpg
Twin Lakes: Autumn Fires
By Melissa Lason, Michelle Garza

Publisher: Sinister Grin Press | Release Date: Sept. 30, 2018 | Pages: 132

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Have you ever driven through a small town and wonder what secrets they are hiding? Or have you ever looked at someone and thought to yourself are they who they say they are? Well, look no further than the town of Twin Lakes, which is dripping with secrets and chock full of bizarre citizens. Michelle Garza and Melissa Lason’s Twin Lakes: Autumn Fires is a wonderfully creepy tale that’ll have you visiting the town for its mystery but staying for the characters.

We are introduced to the town through Liz. After she escapes the clutches of a kidnapper, Liz stumbles onto a headless corpse laying next to a large fire. She’s bruised, freaked out, and afraid, not only of her attacker, but of the shadows that are snaking up her legs. And this is only the first chapter!  Garza and Lason don’t waste any time showing you that evil things are going to happen.

Twin Lakes is probably the most important character here and one that we instantly fall in love with despite its flaws. It seems like a normal town, with the local diner that everyone goes to, rumors that ooze out of the large houses around town, the woods that are perfect for evil fires and strange beasts, and tons and tons of secrets. We find out pretty quickly that the founders of the town are hundreds of years old and “white witches.” The police department is full of skin-changers, while others can talk to the dead. And there’s a serial killer demon that can control shadows. Every time we turn around we discover someone else can do something fantastical.

However, as wacky as it sounds, it works. They never come across as far-fetched or unbelievable. Garza and Lason gave their characters enough flaws and challenges that they came across as real people, despite their magical abilities. Plus, they mixed in limits and conflicts to force their characters to make some really tough, painful choices. In the end we get some truly layered characters that we can’t help but care for. 

I think the heart of this book is Liz. Her arc is extremely powerful and compelling. Not only is she dealing with the aftermath of being assaulted, she is also trying to come to terms with being in a bizarre town full of witches, skin-changers, and a serial killer terrorizing her. It’s enough to make anyone go nuts. And her reactions to all of this is what grounds the story in reality. What would we do when faced with all of this? Would we blindly trust a doctor when he says we should stay with an old woman? Probably not, despite what we as the reader know about this woman and how she might be the only one to help. I found myself trying to will Liz into doing what these strangers tell her, hoping she understands that they are the good guys. And this is the magic that Garza and Lason weave, making us believe Liz is real and rooting for her to make it to the end of the book.

The story moves along at a quick pace, with Garza and Lason doling out just enough information to keep us guessing at who the demon is. We never linger too long on a scene before another piece of the puzzle is given to us. This adds a level of tension that ramps up the closer we get to the end. And nothing is wasted, everything revealed to us is expertly tied to the ending.

On the flip-side, the story isn’t anything we haven’t seen before. It’s a pretty basic mystery with a few twists that are not that shocking. But, I don’t think this detracts from the book. It’s just a vehicle to help get us invested in the town and its characters. Trust me when I say you’ll lap up every little hint of Twin Lakes’ backstory while going through the plot.

Twin Lakes: Autumn Fires feels like the first season of a TV show. We get a standard mystery that is mainly there to introduce us to the characters and setting. We fall in love with their personalities, relationships, and abilities. The mystery and intrigue of the town tells us there is some serious craziness just below the surface, which hooks us to want more. And then we are asked to wait. What more could you ask for?

I am all on board for this crazy train that Garza and Lason put us on in this tale. I am fully in their clutches, excited to see what happens with these amazing characters and their bizarre little town.