When the call went out offering an advance copy of Mandi Castle’s debut novel, Dear Stephanie, I couldn’t say yes fast enough. Being a friend of whose writing I am already a fan, I thought I had an idea what to expect.
I was wrong.
It was better.
Paige Preston is beautiful, aesthetically enhanced in any and every way possible in the quest for perfection. She’s filthy rich and lives an incredibly priveleged life.
If you don’t hate her already then let me add that gorgeous men fall at her feet, not caring they are only being used to quell her addiction to sex. She uses her sexuality to get what she wants from whomever she wants it, then leaves them bleeding in her wake. Top that off with her bitterness toward her family, her drug habit, and her disregard for human emotion and you have a full on despicable bitch.
But….Mandi Castle has proven that she is a master of the twist. As the tale unfolds you learn what has molded Paige into the woman she is. Looks and privelege aside…..she is a vessel filled with pain and torment. A shattered vessel, broken beyond repair.
Or is she?
It’s very difficult to write a review on a book that you just want to read out loud to the world to make certain that they get the chance to experience the story. It reaches in and doesn’t just touch the many different levels of human emotion; it grabs on and doesn’t let go.
In the end, you may still find that you hate Paige, but you will also find that you love her, some may even be able to empathize to an extent.
The emotional ride this book took me on left me sitting still, mouth hanging open, then shouting (as well as one can on Facebook) at my friend, this brilliant author, asking her how she could do this to me.
I sit here in hopes that soon I will have the privilege of reading what happens after….
A masterfully written debut novel. Congratulations, Mandi! And very well done.
Now, with the author’s permission, a small look into the mind of Paige Preston. Should you require more, Dear Stephanie is available on Amazon for Kindle and in paperback.
My first suicide attempt happened completely spontaneously, as a reaction to what happened with Mr. Preston. Every other time, it’s been calculated, planned. I get this feeling in the pit of my stomach, a dull ache, and then slowly, darkness begins to surround me, and the voices in my head start, whispering at first, and then gradually their volume increases to screams until I feel like I am at the bottom of a hole with no light, and I’m suffocating, unable to take a deep breath, unable to focus, and unable to make it stop.
Then a calmness comes over me, the voices hush, and it feels like warm honey being poured over my head until my body can feel agaim, and I know what to do. Sometimes it comes slowly, and sometimes more rapidly, but every time, the answer is the same. Depression is a monster. He seeks me and haunts me and tries to pull me into the darkness.
I keep getting the dull ache. I know it’s there. I feel it, and I can’t shake it. The voices whisper, “You know what to do. Do it. Do it. Do it.” The voices convince me that the world is better off without me, that I’m doing myself and everybody who knows me a favor by making my exit, and most of the time, I believe their words.
This time though, I don’t want to believe it. As much as Blake makes me happy, I can tell I do the same for him, or at least, I did until he disappeared.
~From Dear Stephanie, a debut novel by Mandi Castle
Mandi Castle is a daydreaming stay at home mom of two who spends most her time reading and writing. She loves watching football, is obsessed with music, and has a serious addiction to smart funny people. She can often be caught having dance parties in her kitchen in Dallas, Texas. To connect more visit her at mandicastle.com.