Bad Apple by Kristi Petersen Schoonover

Just in time for Halloween, we’re happy to feature Kristi Petersen Schoonover’s newest book, Bad Apple. It is available at all major online retailers in both digital and paperback versions.

After an unfortunate incident on a Maine apple orchard, precocious teen Scree is left with a father she’s not sure is hers, a never-ending list of chores and her flaky brother’s baby, who she is expected to raise. In a noble move to save the child from an existence like her own, Scree flees to a glitzy resort teeming with young men just ripe for the picking. But even as life with baby becomes all she’d dreamed, Dali-esque visions begin to leach through the gold paint… Bad Apple is a dark, surreal ride that proves not all things in an orchard are safe to pick.

Part of what sets Bad Apple apart is that Kristi has promised that $3 per hand-sold copy (at conventions and other events) and 50% of the her royalty checks will go to the American Association of Caregiving Youth. This organization aims to provide help and solace to youth caregivers through a variety of programs.

Dome and Zombrarian were both inspired by this book, so here are our reviews; one from a horror aficionado and one from someone who is…not:

Zombrarian’s Review

I read the entirety of Bad Apple in one sitting. I’m a big fan of the horror genre, but this was horror that was uniquely disturbing. You know a book is really good horror when it leaves you feeling set adrift and raw–and Bad Apple did that for me. I was so sucked into the horror of Scree’s world that trying to put it down was worse than slogging through. I felt that I couldn’t leave her or Beckitt alone in there. The slow, creeping tension that builds between Scree’s real world and her nightmare world, and the way I wavered back and forth between which world was the actual real one, made this book deeply disturbing in the best way possible. These characters screamed for a witness, and I was helpless against them.

The scariest part of this book is not the haunted hotel (although it is eerie), and it’s not the frenetic race toward the climax that follows Scree and Beckitt’s escape (although the twists and judicious gore were perfect). It’s the unrelenting reality of Scree’s situation. Bad Apple does not rely on salacious details to make its point about the pain and suffering of youth caregivers. Instead, there is a dull, matter-of-fact recitation of the things Scree takes for granted but we as readers see as unjust, cruel, and abusive. Unlike many horror novels, Bad Apple does not allow you to hide under the covers and chant “it’s not real,it’s not real” because for thousands of children, every day, it IS real. This is not fun, escapist horror, this is real.

Dome’s Review

I’m not a fan of horror, period. Most of it is, “BOO! Be Scared! Look, DEAD PEOPLE!” Kristi doesn’t do that, ever. I am a fan of good writing, intriguing characters and inventive storytelling. I am a fan of this book, even though it is disturbing in its intensity and discomforting in its reality as it brilliantly portrays a young woman’s descent into madness through a series of circumstances beyond her control. The real terror for the reader lies within the mind of Scree, whose unrelenting reality bends her maddeningly more and more as events torture her into a terrifying reality she is unwilling and unable to escape from.

The settings are meticulously described through the lens of Scree’s warped understanding of the world around her. Kristy gives voice to the young mind of an unfortunate child, growing in miserable circumstances. Scree, the child with demented brilliance, attempts to find beauty in her drab surroundings and dilapidated household. A young mind searching for a way out of her reality and finding none, turns inward.

I don’t want to like this book. It is harsh, hard and unrelenting in its style and tone. The characters are real and that reality is stark, bitter, and at the same time maddeningly beautiful. The story is one of cold truth, a reality we look away from but in this book are forced to stare at, and wonder at, and fear that somewhere within it, we might see ourselves. Bad Apple is fiction steeped in awful truths and reflected in warped realities. It whispers, “watch what can happen…” from the bottom of a well. I don’t want to like this book, but damn it, I really do.

For the purposes of full disclosure, this book was a review copy sent to SFSN. No other remuneration was given or implied.

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