Old Cravings by Joy Jarrett

5 stars

It was stalking them, feeding off their fear. With every slow scrape under the floorboards, with every glimpse of silhouetted antlers, with every mangled, bloody corpse they come across, it was toying with them, letting them wonder who will be next. Wondering if they will be next.

Piper and Dylan shared a ranch, shared a life, up until about a year ago. Even after the divorce, under the hurt feelings, the shows of bravado, and the things unsaid, it is clear they still love each other. Would only ever love each other. If they could each figure out how to get out of their own way, maybe they could find a path back to what they once had.

Yes, both paragraphs reference the same story. Yes, the story is every bit as creepy and sexy as the words suggest. And yes, Old Cravings by Joy Jarrett is that good.

It takes a skilled writer to take two genres as dissimilar as horror and romance and tangle them up in such a way that an enjoyable hybrid is forged, something that feeds devotees of both styles but also creates fans of the new form. Joy Jarrett has accomplished that and more here, which is remarkable considering this is her first novel. The horror aspect of Old Cravings is center stage in the novel, taking the mythological and making it terrifying and gruesome. The suspense is well-paced and realistic enough to creep the bejesus out of you. And there is a bit of cleverness toward the end that is truly brilliant. However, the horror would be reduced to nothing but crimson stains in the snow if it weren’t for the heart of the story—the relationship between Piper and Dylan. The bickering, the awkward apologies, the heated desire feels authentic and makes you desperately want them to end up together. That is, if they don’t get eaten first.

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