Home Paranormal Review: The Mortal Sleep – Stripped Me Open and Healed Me Anew (Why I’m BEGGING You to Read this Series)

Review: The Mortal Sleep – Stripped Me Open and Healed Me Anew (Why I’m BEGGING You to Read this Series)

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Title: The Mortal Sleep (Hollow Folk 4)
Author: Gregory Ashe
Publisher: Independent
Release Date: April 5th, 2019
Genre(s): Paranormal, Mystery, Romance
Subjects and Themes: Mental Health, Abuse, LGBTQIAP+
Page Count: 491

Rating: ∞/10

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Brief overview of Books 1-3: A gay psychic teenager named Vie Elliot moves into a small rural town in Wyoming and gets himself involved in a series of murders, kidnappings, and paranormal activities. This is a story of found families, love, complicated relationships, and facing demons within and without.

(You can read my reviews of Book 1-3 HERE)

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 “Maybe it’s all of us, I thought in a flash. Maybe we all believe, deep down, that we don’t deserve love. Or— maybe not all of us, maybe not some lucky assholes— but most of us. Maybe most of us are just as uncertain, just as frightened, just as desperately hoping that we’re worth loving and that the person we love loves us back.”

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I’ve been writing reviews for over a year now. And within that period I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing a whole range of emotions–from hair-pulling anguish frustration to joy and nervousness and anxiety.

This is my first time being scared of writing a review.

Like, really fucking scared. Like, shaking in my chair scared. Because I could string together every language that has ever existed in this world, scrawl them into a 1000-page epic, recite it from dawn to dusk until my throat is torn, and still come up with nothing that could describe what this book means to me. And that kills me.

My brain tells me I need to spend several weeks on this review at the very least. But my heart tells me no, I need to do this right now. Because all those immediate emotions that I’m feeling? They’re the ones I need to seize. And because fears need to faced when they’re at their freshest.

So, okay.

This is a book that feels entirely too big to fit in this universe let alone my heart. One that I want to clutch so hard to myself that I become it, or it becomes me. And I would happily give up half of my consciousness, half of my soul, for it to live and grow inside me. But then I realize there’s no need because it’s already claimed it from Book 1.

And when I walk, it walks with me, anchoring my steps. When I look out into the morning light, it looks out with me, radiating hope. When I’m crumpled on the ground it’s there, pulling me up.

Which all sounds a little crazy. It sounds like the ramblings of a soon-to-be maybe-killer (“Well, that Kathy. I mean, she was pleasant. Polite. Never caused any trouble. Although…she did say all those things about that book that one time. Guess that should have been a warning bell, huh?”) But “crazy” just about defines this book. Because perfection doesn’t exist. Shouldn’t exist. And yet it’s sitting right here in my hand.

So what can I tell you about The Mortal Sleep?

I can tell you how heartstoppingly beautiful Ashe’s writing is. I can tell you how his characters aren’t characters; they’re people existing in some other reality, other dimension, projecting their lives into his brain, and now they live in these books like it’s where they always belonged–across ink and paper, instead of flesh and blood–and their relationships are so exquisitely developed that they become your relationships.

I can talk about how the buildup of tension, with regards to both plot and character development, is off-the-walls phenomenal. I can talk about how he’s raised the bar for storytelling from book to book and how he has surpassed it yet again. I can talk about how series finales are so, so incredibly hard to nail, and yet he does it (because of course).

But what makes this book a veritable masterpiece (and I don’t use that term lightly), what makes it stand shoulders every other book I’ve read in the past two years, is that it peers into every dark crevice of the characters’ pain and suffering–into the heart of what makes us us–and it Does. Not. Flinch.

The line between honesty and gratuitousness is a thin one when it comes to stories that try to tackle depression and suicidal behaviour. Gregory Ashe walks it while balancing four different genres and reciting poetry that would make the angels weep. Without condoning it, the book doesn’t shy away from the ugliness and the violence that comes with mental illness.

And it’s not pretty. It’s not sugar-coated.

But it’s true. It’s so, so fucking true.

Like, there’s a scene where Vie goes out his way to deliberately hurt his boyfriend (using words), and at first he tells himself that he’s doing it as a favour–he’s doing it to push him away, to save his life. But then it morphs into something uglier. Because sometimes you turn other’s words and actions (even the innocuous ones) into ammunition against yourself–reasons for why you’re unlovable and discardable. Because sometimes you’re hurting so much and you don’t know how to deal with it, so it overflows onto the people you love. Because sometimes you’re hurting so much that you want them to feel just an ounce of it, and you derive a kind of awful, aching almost-pleasure from that. And on the heels of that comes blackness and self-loathing.

All of that. And all the reasons why we might hurt ourselves (and, in turn, the ones we love). And hate ourselves. And try to end ourselves.

Just…How.

How do you put that mess of emotions into words that I can recognize?

This book gets so many things so right, so real, that it felt like I was experiencing them again for the first time. And I was shaking and crying so hard that I had to go take multiple walks to calm myself down (and this was past 12 AM).

And I honestly don’t know how he does it. Maybe it’s magic. Or pure talent. Or power sourced from earth’s core. I don’t know how he does it but he does it, and I’m thankful to the point of tears because I can look at Vie’s scars and look to my own and nod and say “Okay.” And that’s enough.

This book (and series) is a bulwark against the voices urging me in the middle of the night, whispering that surely this time I can get the dosage right. And I know it can be so much for so many of you too. For all of you who have been broken and ground down. Because in spite of how dark it gets, this is a series about hope. And love–so, so much love. Finding it. Losing it. And slowly, oh so slowly learning that maybe, just maybe, you’re worthy of it and every other goddamn thing that life has to offer.

The Mortal Sleep has taken the top of my Best of 2019 list (and my heart and my sleep and my every waking thought) and it won’t be moving for the rest of the year.

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Complimentary copy provided by the author. All opinions are my own.

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0 comment

maxinesobsessions April 6, 2019 - 6:32 am

Wonderful, heartfelt review. I’m adding this series to my must buy list.

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maxinesobsessions April 6, 2019 - 6:37 am

I lied.. I just went and got the kindle version of Mr. Big Empty.
The entire series is ridiculously cheap. I think they were all about $2.99 each. I hop people give the series a try.

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Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky April 6, 2019 - 8:52 pm

YESSS you have no idea how happy I am to hear that. I hope you enjoy it! And yes, it’s absolutely INSANE how cheap they are. I would buy mutliple kindle copies of each book if I could!

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maxinesobsessions April 8, 2019 - 2:28 am

When my motivation kicks in i’ll be doing a Instagram post, I feel like more people need to know about these. I love a bargain.

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Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky April 9, 2019 - 6:14 am

*HUGS* You’re the BEST. <3 <3

Tammy April 6, 2019 - 6:43 am

Wow, I’m convinced. Wonderful, heartfelt review😊

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Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky April 9, 2019 - 5:28 am

Thank you, Tammy! <3

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This Week’s New Book Releases And Reviews 2019/14. – Swift Coffee April 6, 2019 - 1:23 pm

[…] ‘The Mortal Sleep’ by Kathy at Pages Below the Vaulted Sky […]

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jennifertarheelreader April 6, 2019 - 5:49 pm

I’m off to add the series to my wishlist, Kathy. No way am I missing something you endorse this highly. So THIS is the book you were talking about that wouldn’t leave you. Now I can completely understand what you meant. Beautifully written review, my friend! ♥️

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Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky April 9, 2019 - 5:01 am

Oh gosh, THANK YOU, Jennifer! That means the world to me. <3 <3

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jennifertarheelreader April 6, 2019 - 5:51 pm

Ahhh, I own Mr. Big Empty. I bought it in September. I am thinking you must have reviewed another book in this series around that time? ♥️

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Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky April 9, 2019 - 5:01 am

Haha yes!! I reviewed the first three books and I remember you telling me that you bought Mr. Big Empty afterwards. 😀

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waytoofantasy April 8, 2019 - 11:06 am

Infinity out of 10, that’s quite a rating! I remember you saying before how much you loved this series. I’ll have to check it out at some point.

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Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky April 9, 2019 - 6:26 pm

Haha I was like, “If I give this a 10/10 it’s gonna screw up all my future ratings because it’s gonna be the benchmark for which I compare other books to.” So infinity it is. 😀 And yes yes yes, do check it out! (And it’s so ludicrously cheap on kindle) I literally CANNOT stop thinking about it.

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maddalena@spaceandsorcery April 8, 2019 - 12:41 pm

At a time when grimness seems to be the required ingredient for any story, one focusing on hope is a welcome change of pace, even when that hope is seen through a lens of suffering.
Thank you for a very impassioned review! 🙂

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Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky April 10, 2019 - 9:50 pm

Oh gosh, you always have the most wonderful things to say about reviews (and books!) Thank you for reading!! <3

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@lynnsbooks April 9, 2019 - 6:11 am

Wow, such praise indeed. I’m going to grab this series now.
Thanks
Lynn 😀

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Aurora Librialis April 9, 2019 - 1:14 pm

The fact that you would ever worry about not doing a book justice blows my mind. Your reviews are more beautiful and emotional reads than half the books I’ve read ❤️

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Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky April 11, 2019 - 6:07 pm

Oh my god, my heart just CLENCHED. What am I supposed to do when you say things like this?? <3 <3 I guess a lot of the insecurity comes from knowing that I actually having an audience for my blog posts now, so I feel like there are expectations (*shudders*) to live up to? Which feels kind of silly!

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Aurora Librialis April 12, 2019 - 9:05 am

Well, you got that audience by writing like you – so I don’t think you need to worry about the expectations ❤️

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OMG That Song Tag – Pages Below the Vaulted Sky April 18, 2019 - 6:27 am

[…] No words. A once-in-a-lifetime-experience. A gorgeous fae prince/princess would have to ride their griffin down from the sky and whisk me away to their forest kingdom for me to even consider knocking The Mortal Sleep out of the Favourite of 2019 position. (You can read my review here) […]

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