Epeolatry Book Review: Schrader’s Chord by Scott Leeds
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Title: Schrader’s Chord
Author: Scott Leeds
Publisher: Tor Nightfire
Release date: September 5, 2023
Synopsis: I told you they were real.
After his estranged father’s mysterious death, Charlie Remick returns to Seattle to help with the funeral. There, he discovers his father left him two parting gifts: the keys to the family record store and a strange black case containing four ancient records that, according to legend, can open a gate to the land of the dead.
When Charlie, his sister, and their two friends play the records, they unwittingly open a floodgate of unspeakable horror. As the darkness descends, they are stalked by a relentless, malevolent force and see the dead everywhere they turn.
With time running out, the only person who can help them is Charlie’s resurrected father, who knows firsthand the awesome power the records have unleashed. But can they close the gate and silence Schrader’s Chord before it’s too late?
If I gave you four records and told you that playing them at the same time will awaken the dead, would you play them? Anyone who reads horror stories knows it’s a terrible idea, but anyone who reads horror stories also knows that the characters will play the records, and bad things will happen. It’s a classic trope, and even though this book hinges on that trope, I loved it.
Raymond Rennick was obsessed with music. He ran a record store and hunted for rare vinyl. That’s why, after his wife died, he devoted himself to tracking down the mythical records that allowed him to see her one more time. Only in doing so, he condemned himself and three others to a horrible fate. Then Charlie, Raymond’s estranged son, comes to town to help with his father’s estate, and despite witnessing one of those horrible fates, he convinces his sister and two friends to play the records with him. This launches them into a race against time to save not only themselves, but anyone else who might stumble upon the records and unleash the dead.
And I was hooked. The plot is exciting and fast-paced. The characters have to unravel the mystery of Schrader’s Chord while dodging dead spirits, a death curse, and the gruesome spectre of Schrader himself. Schrader is a formidable, truly terrifying antagonist who stalks them at every turn. The chord has marked each of the four characters with a unique death that could strike them at any moment. The tension is tight and makes it hard to put down.
But Schrader’s Chord is more than just a fast-paced thriller. At the heart of a strong story are its characters, and this book is no exception. I fell in love with each character almost immediately. Leeds is an expert at making these fictional people seem real with palpable chemistry and complex relationships. The romance between Charlie and Ana developed organically, and was sweet. Opening the portal allowed Raymond to come back and allow him and Charlie to finally work through their demons in one of the most compelling subplots of the book.
It’s been a long time since I’ve had this much fun reading a horror novel. Schrader’s Chord is gripping, genuinely scary, and an absolute joy to read. I couldn’t put it down, and when I reached the end, I wanted to start all over again. Leeds takes the reader on an engaging journey that is full of heartbreak, complex relationships, terrifying ghosts, and love.
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Melody lives in Ontario, Canada and writes short, dark fiction. She has been published in several anthologies and online publications. In university, she studied Ancient Greek and Roman Studies and often infuses her work with elements of Greek mythology. She also loves reading, embroidery, and martial arts.