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The Cold Inside by Al Bruno III

What if you could do anything you wanted? What if no one could stop you? 

“What if you could do anything you wanted?”

Sixteen year-old Tristam Bloom is having the worst year of his life. He’s on probation, he’s the laughingstock of the school and his girlfriend wants nothing to do with him. To top it all off he now has to eat lunch with the nerdy kids he spent all of last year tormenting.

“What if no one could stop you?”

But Tristam has a secret; a doorway has opened in his mind allowing him access to unimaginable secrets and impossible worlds. Every night the power grows stronger and soon he finds that he can devour ghosts and turn his adversaries own minds against them.

“What would you do? What wouldn’t you do?”

With a power like his Tristam finds that revenge comes easily but he doesn’t realize that now that just as he’s glimpsed the shadowy world existing alongside our own, the denizens of that world have seen him. Tristam finds himself trapped in the wake of a nightmare that has been waiting thirty-five years for an opportunity to rise.

Note: The Cold Inside contains pervasive harsh language; also, some graphic sexual content and graphic violence.

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Editorial Reviews

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Gripping Suspense

By Fiona Gregory, editor

Mar 18, 2014: "The Cold Inside" is a paranormal suspense/horror story in a particularly toxic high school setting. I was surprised how gripping this novel turned out to be. It’s a real page turner.

The protagonist (somewhat sympathetic, but not a hero), Tristam, used to be in the top clique who bullied the "nerds", but after an incident in which he apparently did something horrible to a dog, he has become ostracized and the nerds are now his only friends (sort of). Circumstances surrounding said dog incident took place before the beginning of the narrative and are only referred to obliquely, even in Tristam’s personal thoughts. I can imagine the author has reasons for doing this, but it becomes more and more of an elephant in the room as events progress, and some obvious questions arise in the reader’s mind regarding connections between this and subsequent things Tristam learns about himself.

Tristam experiences astral travel during dreams and soon learns this is only the beginning of a power he can control. Of course his thoughts soon turn to revenge, but he also learns he is not alone in these powers, and the world beyond normal human senses is more complex and dangerous than he could have imagined. There is a lot of depth to the worldbuilding, and the backstories of multiple characters who play a role in the plot. Most of the teenagers are viciously cruel, except for a few who are saintly. But the nasty ones are shown to be acting mainly out of peer pressure and fear for their own status in the self reinforcing clique system. Adult characters are not much nicer, although they have their own values and motivations.

As of writing, this serial is up to Chapter 36 and still updating, but the archive binge can be done in a long evening (personal experience). This author is quite prolific and has a good record for completing his novels, so dive in without fear. Or maybe with fear, as there’s a definite Stephen King-ish vibe to this story.

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