Bram Stoker Award-winning author Hailey Piper joins Bad Hand Books with a supernatural crime novella.
What’s been happening at Cranberry Cove? It’s unspeakable. It’s unspoken.
Emberly Hale is about to take a dark journey inside the derelict hotel—and inside her own past—to find out the horrible truth.
Hailey Piper’s Cranberry Cove begins with the world’s most unlikely paranormal investigators: Conner and Emberly are essentially underworld goons, sent by their crimelord boss to find out who is responsible for sexually assaulting his grown son in room 2A of Cranberry Cove, a hotel that’s been abandoned for decades and lives on in urban legend.
The stories have it that many men (always men) have been assaulted within the walls of the hotel. Some simply vanish. The threat is real enough that the hotel remains utterly empty, entered only by the occasional true crime podcaster or an unsuspecting homeless kid.
This latest assault would be just one more in a string of vague stories bolstering the hotels legend, except for the identity of the victim. The boss’s son, gone to meet a rival gang’s people, ending up raped and alone in an upstairs room? This could mean war.
And those are the stakes as Conner and Em enter Cranberry Cove: find something, or preferably someone, to explain what happened, and cause that person terrible harm, meanwhile avoiding a gang war.
What follows in a chilling journey into a haunted hotel, which is always a solid horror trope on its own, but more importantly, an investigation of masculinity in its various forms.
Conner tries, despite his shoot-first-ask-questions-later bravado. He wants to be sensitive, and he is more than accepting of Em, a trans woman. In fact, he is overly protective of her, reinforcing all the old gender binaries and, sweet as he is, sounding silly and maybe a little toxic.
There’s Duke, the boss’s kid, who is a man living in perpetual adolescence, incapable or unwilling to address the trauma of his violation.
But there are also leather daddy sorcerers. So jot that down.
More importantly, there is a hungry “guy-thing” within the walls of Cranberry Cove that seems to have a particular need for male victims, which places Em in a unique, Tiresius-like position to be witness and participant in this investigation, and investigate she does.
There’s a fun, breezy camaraderie between the two principals reminiscent of Pulp Fiction’s Jules and Vincent, but the resemblance stops there. It’s an utterly unique novella, that manages in its very limited space to deliver sharply drawn characters, more than a few scenes of chilling, harrowing horror, as well as an investigation into how certain manifestations of masculinity might be genuinely, physically self-destructive.