Published by Permuted Press on February 9th 2014
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It is silence, not screams of terror, which proclaims the end of the world…Minji Nordim is vacationing in Las Vegas with her small family when she witnesses the beginning of a terrifying apocalypse. When humanity is transformed into mindless drones by a terrifying supernatural event only Minji appears to be immune. Thousands die instantly, but the other affected people are drawn to the Nevada desert. Nothing stands in the way of the mesmerized. Not fire, not heights, not rubble. As the bodies pile in the streets and the relentless wave of the mesmerized plods into the deadly desert, Minji is trapped in a burning city attempting to rescue her family. When Minji encounters other unaffected survivors, they band together to survive in a city that is crumbling all around them. With no hope of rescue and the event slowly spreading across the world, Minji and the others must decide who to save among the mesmerized and where to go before the city is in ashes. Even more unsettling is that Minji senses that the force behind the event is observing them…Can one woman save her family and the world?
The Mesmerized was one of my favorite beta reads of 2014. It was scary as hell. Rhiannon just knocked this one out of the park. She nails Minji’s character. I really could place myself in her shoes as a mother. Rhiannon always writes super out there stuff but roots it in reality, these are everyday people in places we can visit, with horrible things happening around them and too them. Her character’s suffer, and triumph and I was definitely there for every single second of it.
“Okay, the tigers are at The Mirage. So that’s our first stop,” Jake decided. “Then we can head to the Hard Rock. I want a t-shirt from there.”
Minji looped the end of the leash a few times around her wrist before taking Ava’s hand. “Perfect. Let’s get this show on the road.”
“It’s really crowded right now, so everyone stay close. I’m looking at you, Ava.”
Ava gave her father a plaintive look while tugging on her leash. “I can’t run away!”
“Good! I’d like my little girl to not go splat in the road.”
Minji winced at the memory of her daughter dodging into the road to greet Jake when he’d returned from an evening run. Luckily their neighbor had seen her in time and jerked her car onto someone else’s lawn, avoiding Ava completely. The mere idea of losing any of her family was enough to make Minji sick to her stomach.
Shoving negative thoughts away, Minji kept in her husband’s wake as he threaded through the crowd toward the escalators that descended from either side of the waterfall. The atrium loomed ahead filled with bright sunlight that reflected off the creamy walls and pillars.
The first sign that something was wrong came when her brain was assailed with what felt like millions of cold needles burrowing into the gray matter. With a whimper, Minji pressed her fingertips to her temples in a futile attempt to stave off the pain. Then the sensation intensified.
Screams echoed through the vast resort in a horrifying chorus. All around her, people flailed about, or gripped their heads in their hands. Jake grunted and stumbled as Bailey let out a shrill cry. Woozy, Minji reached for her screaming baby just as another stab of unbearable agony tore through her brain, blinding her. Rapidly blinking her eyes, she desperately attempted to restore her sight.
“Mommy! Mommy!” Ava wailed. “Mommy, my head hurts! I can’t see!”
Howls of agony reverberated through the mall corridors. Minji tugged on the child leash, dragging Ava into her arms. Unable to see, she clutched her daughter close. Paralyzing fear churned in her gut. The pain diminished, but the blindness remained.
“I’m right here.” A familiar, warm hand floundered against her back then found her shoulder. “I’m right here, hon. I got you.”
Again there was a flash of icy discomfort, then the world returned to sharp focus. To Minji’s horror, blood streamed down the faces of some of the shoppers close to her. Bubbles of the rich liquid formed in their eyes, noses, and ran from their lips. Swaying slightly, the bleeders stared blankly past the faces of their frightened companions. Minji swiftly checked Ava, Bailey and Jake. None of them were bleeding. Lifting Ava onto her hip, Minji pressed against Jake’s side.
“Jake, are you okay?”
“My head is killing me,” he answered. “Check the baby.”
“She’s not bleeding, just crying. What the hell is happening?”
“I don’t know. Keep Ava close!” Jake wrapped his arms around his wife, pulling her toward the far wall.