Hanging Chads Book Reviews

The US Review of Books says: 

This horror story of many delights begins with a creepy prologue that sets the stage for the next twenty-three chapters. The book examines Maddy Sommers' early beginning of being a charmer and one who looks angelic. But looks can be deceiving. Growing up in a house of physical and emotional abuse, Maddy bears her scars in many ways and inflicts those scars upon unsuspecting others. While she has the support of her aunts and an uncle, this love is not enough to overcome the rigidity, cruelty, and hatred she experiences at the hands of her fanatically religious parents. What happens when she goes to college, gets married while trying to be someone other than herself, and how she copes with the death of a loved one show the reader a broad spectrum of a personality significantly harmed as a child. Amidst the mayhem, she finds a sisterhood with other women, all while searching for her "prince." 

A mystery, love story, and horror story all in one, Clouse's novel also encompasses political and religious issues along with the terrors of abuse and killings. Well-written with a sense of humor and sarcasm, it is a delightfully charming book, if a book about murder can be called this. The character developments are well thought out, especially that of Maddy, who goes from being a delightful child to an adult of depression, drug addiction, and sexual proclivities. The examination of grief is nicely done, as is the social construct of abuse and neglect. But the most interesting development is Maddy's love of pranks, pranks that turn evil in her need to harm others who have done their own harm. The reader will be entranced by her wild personality and engaged throughout the book. 

RECOMMENDED by the US Review 

Pacific Book Reviews says:

Madeline Ruth Sommers, "Maddy" for short, was born into an austere household and raised by parents who tried to impose a highly restrictive and one-sided way of thinking on her. Receiving no love from her parents, she soon turns to her aunts Blair and Patty and Uncle Joe for succor and a deeper outlook on life. Through their nurturing, she breaks out of the shell her parents would have her live in and eventually follows in the footsteps of her Uncle Joe.

Seeing that the world is full of many forms of evil and injustice, with people who would happily trample on others, Maddy makes it her business to put these people in their place, even if it means committing murder. In essence, she views herself as a righteous vigilante righting the ills in society and going further than the justice system is willing to while providing reprieve to the downtrodden.

The plot is well-thought-out and unfolds with perfect timing, enough to keep the suspense going but also ensure the plot remains engaging and uncomplicated.

Although Maddy is the central figure, other characters aren't overlooked, and they all develop at a consistent and realistic pace with fleshed-out lives and mannerisms. This book will stimulate the mind while stepping on some toes due to the heavy amount of political, religious, and societal discussion, debate, and criticism. Although some of the beliefs held by Maddy might come off as quite biased, they will certainly provide a reason to think deeper and question the status quo.

The writing is also persuasive and easy to become enraptured by, as the desire to know what Maddy will do next keeps mounting right from the attention-grabbing prologue.

Some scenes are simply gruesome, and author Evan Clouse's style of writing with carefully chosen diction makes it easy to imagine them with striking clarity, almost like watching a horror movie. Reading this book requires a certain level of open-mindedness and an ability to stomach visceral imagery.

Hanging Chads by Evan Clouse is a psychological thriller that will appeal to fans of crime fiction, sociological novels, and political and religious discussions, especially revolving around America. Due to the graphic nature of the book, it might contain triggers for some people. These triggers involve rape, drug overdose, murder, racism, domestic abuse, homophobia, depression, stalking, profanity, violence, etc. The cover serves as an adequate precursor to the events in the book, as it is reminiscent of a Chucky doll, cute but deadly.