Novella Review: Festival by Aaron J. French

book cover to festival
© Unnerving, 2017.


“Relaxation and romance were the plan for Steve and Cherie at the out-of-the-way hot springs. Something’s not quite right about the staff at Serenity Sanctum, the place has a vibe…

In no time, old traumas and relationship problems resurface, turning what they thought would be a good time into a nightmare. That’s only the tip of the deep-seeping terror. Something unspeakable and terrifying is happening at this little getaway, more than the drinking and the oddity, a trouble lurks.

The ritualistic event, a strange and inconceivable gathering, taking place at the hot springs upends Steve’s life. Women gather, congregating, engaged in the ancient primitive rite to appease an unholy Goddess.

Once a year these acolytes tend to her needs, to perform the sacraments of the Festival.” (Source: Goodreads)


A fast and entertaining read is always a plus for busy readers. Aaron J. French’s Festival is just that: a quick, fun read, even if it does not appear so at first glance. Totaling 142 pages, I completed the book within 24 hours. Because of my current health issues, that’s pretty impressive.

Festival begins on the slower side of things with flashbacks to Steve’s abusive childhood with an alcoholic mother. His present-day girlfriend, though pretty, isn’t much better. In a desperate bid to save their failing relationship, the two take an impromptu outing in search of a romantic vacation. They end up at Serenity Sanctum, a small campground and hot springs resort run by two women. The two quickly learn that they aren’t alone. What begins as a dreadfully boring, typical last resort for a failing relationship quickly culminates in an action packed ending that fans of horror films like Teeth will love.

Though the plot is fairly intriguing, I must admit that the characters aren’t anything special. At least, not the protagonist and his girlfriend. Cherie is far from perfect, as stated previously. Her alcoholism and her penchant for putting herself in risky situations undoes her, but Steve is no better. His misogynistic attitude justifies his blaming of Cherie for a past incident, which I won’t go into detail. I don’t like to give out spoilers, after all.

When I read books, I do it mostly for entertainment. On occasion, I may read something in hopes of gleaning something educational (such as non-fiction). Because of that, I don’t tend to spend time looking for themes in a piece of material. That said, I would like to point my readers in the direction of this excellently written review by Mike Thorn.

Though I wouldn’t place Festival among my favorite reads, it is definitely a book to look into. It’s perfect if you only have a short amount of time and has enough of the occult in it to appease readers like me. I would like to thank Unnerving for providing me with a free copy for the purpose of unbiased review.


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