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“White Lotus” Meets “Midsommar” When Hawaiian Resort Turns Sinister


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The Island Mother by Jon Cohn

What’s it About?

This supernatural thriller is centered around an emotionally codependent woman on the run from her own life. She finds paradise, but it may come at a cost that she’s unable to pay…

Sometimes this island can make you do crazy things, you know?

Ohana means family. But the resort staff and members aren’t your ordinary family. With the guests of White Lotus, the atmosphere of Midsommar, and the gore of Stephen Graham Jones, readers are in for an unsettling ride with The Island Mother (Deadbolt Books). As a finalist in the 2022 BookLife Prize for Fiction, Jon Cohn has crafted a haunting and suspenseful novel, filled to the brim with supernatural beings, dark pasts, and a plot twist around every corner.

On the Run From a Dark Past

Leigh Ramos is always on the run. She has an itch that keeps her on the move away from a dangerous past. But somehow that itch always drives her into the arms of another abusive man who takes her for granted. This time, she was rescued by Jesse, a meth dealer in Kentucky who wants her to be his drug mule. And after a drug run gone wrong, that itch tells Leigh to run for her life. But is she running from something or towards something?

When Leigh finds herself in Kona, Hawaii with her beat-up old van, a duffel bag of snowglobes to help her remember her parents, and a secret compartment filled with meth, she doesn’t know what’s next. By some miracle, she lands a job without a hitch and is ready for her new life to start, away from Jesse.

Paradise Isn’t What It Seems

The Mahalo Club feels like a refuge. So does hiding behind the name Lani Kouihu, and finding comfort with the resort staff that is full of misfits and runaways. “The way I see it, whoever you were before coming to Hawai’i doesn’t matter. The tide of the sea brings us a new opportunity every day to be whoever we want to be.” She’s drawn towards Kai, the handsome team leader offering those comforting words and training her on her responsibilities. Leigh swears, this time, it will be different — Kai is caring and confident and not trying to sleep with her on the first day. He can’t be anything like her abusive exes.

But things move quickly between them, and strange things start happening the day “Lani” arrives at the resort. And everyone can’t help but notice that she is at the center of it. Jesse is still hot on her heels, disturbing things wash up on shore, and Leigh’s itch only grows stronger. Before your eyes, and in broad daylight, everything goes careening into something far more sinister.

Vivid Characters and Supernatural Horror

The Island Mother is disturbing and captivating, with complex characters and a unique plot at its core. Jon Cohn has detailed the complicated emotions of someone running from an abusive relationship. Leigh wrestles with feelings of guilt for leaving someone she loves behind, and for choosing her own life over her relationship. Ultimately, Leigh knows that she deserves better, and is searching for the right path to make that possible.

The author has masterminded a compelling but terrifying villain in Jesse and manages at times to even make the reader feel sympathy for him. That in itself is the sign of a skilled writer.

Not to mention, the terrifying and vivid descriptions of the supernatural and horror-genre events that will have readers bracing themselves each time they turn the page. From nightmare creatures to flies swarming rotting corpses, to the descent into the occult and otherwordly, this is a novel you’ll be thinking about long after it’s over.

This unforgettable read explores the nature of bodily autonomy, the cost of sacrifice and the control we have over our own narratives. Leigh helps tell the story of The Island Mother, but she must also make the choice to help herself and take life into her own hands. The novel’s question appears, at first, to be: Who is the Island Mother? But the question that Leigh must ask herself when all is said and done, is: Who am I?

About Jon Cohn:

Jon Cohn has been giving himself nightmares reading horror books ever since he was a small child, and he revels in the opportunity to do the same to others. When he is not busy writing spooky stories, Jon is a professional board game designer and publisher. He specializes in games that — you guessed it — focus on horror, and hopefully a few laughs. He lives in San Diego, CA with his wife and two little monsters, Luna and Gizmo.

The Island Mother by Jon Cohn

Publish Date: 7/14/2022

Genre: Fiction, Horror, Paranormal, Suspense, Thrillers

Author: Jon Cohn

Page Count: 275 pages

Publisher: Deadbolt Books

ISBN: 9798218023478

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