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Rags and Old Iron    by Lorelei Shannon Amazon.com order for
Rags and Old Iron
by Lorelei Shannon
Order:  USA  Can
Juno, 2007 (2002)
Hardcover, Paperback
*   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

The fact that Rags and Old Iron was author Lorelei Shannon's first novel is evident in the writing, but the story is suspenseful and creepy just what a good horror novel should be. Amy Sullivan is a typical college student: daydreaming through class, going on dates, and enjoying her independence while sharing an apartment with her best friend.

All of this changes, though, when she begins suffering violent spells of nausea, followed by strange dreams about herself as a child and the friend, Rags, she met in an abandoned hotel in Palm Beach while visiting her grandparents one year. Amy's friend Xavier, a Yaqui medicine man, helps her realize these are repressed memories and that the friend she is dreaming about is an evil creature that is coming for her. When Amy finds herself in the hospital after an attack, a long-lost childhood acquaintance, Louis, who is now a voodoo priest, is waiting to take her away before Rags can find her. Soon, Amy and her friends find themselves running to Florida to try to kill the black magic swamp monster that wants her for his bride.

One of the elements that sets Rags and Old Iron apart from other horror stories is the uniqueness of the monster. Rags is a creature born of algae and swamp water and raised by black magic sacrifices. He can shape-shift and change color, making him very good at camouflage. He can also live detached from his heart, which makes him creepier but also more vulnerable. However, Rags is not a creature without feeling, no matter how distorted his emotions may be. This brings a twisted aspect of romance to the tale, along with some scenes of more common romance between other characters.

The story of Rags and Old Iron is very engaging, even if the writing does not always match it. Some passages are choppy, some symbols not well explained, and some plot points forgotten or not fully developed. Another problem is the frequency of spelling and repeated word errors. While this is not the fault of the story, it does detract from some intense moments because it does not allow the text to read smoothly. All in all though, Rags and Old Iron is a good horror story that will appeal to female fans of the genre, and I hope to read more of Lorelei Shannon's work.

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