Author: Caryn Larrinaga
Narrator: Ruby Hankey
Length: 7 hours and 55 minutes
Series: Solstice Survivors, Book 1
Publisher: Twisted Tree Press
Released: Jun. 19, 2019
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Tess McBray was dying. The solstice syndrome had no cure, and she resigned herself to an early grave. But just when she gave up on survival, all her symptoms mysteriously disappeared.
All but one symptom, anyway. Something is wrong with Tess’ hands. They absorb any material they touch, and her skin turns to wood, steel, or concrete. It doesn’t take this comic book obsessed 21-year-old long to figure out what’s going on: Somehow, she’s developed super powers. And she’s not the only one; across the country, people are coming forward and sharing their gifts with the world. In her own city, where the police are battling a human trafficking operation, a masked vigilante called The Fox is saving lives and stopping criminals.
Tess doesn’t know where she fits into this new, super-powered world. But when people around her start disappearing, she can’t just sit on the sidelines. Teaming up with The Fox to create the world’s first superhero duo might be the only way to rid her city of evil and save the people she loves most.
Caryn Larrinaga is an award-winning mystery, horror, and urban fantasy writer. Her debut novel, Donn’s Hill, was awarded the League of Utah Writers 2017 Silver Quill in the adult novel category and was a 2017 Dragon Award finalist.
Watching scary movies through split fingers terrified Caryn as a child, and those nightmares inspire her to write now. Her 90-year-old house has a colorful history, and the creaking walls and narrow hallways send her running (never walking) up the stairs. Exploring her fears through writing makes Caryn feel a little less foolish for wanting a buddy to accompany her into the tool shed.
Caryn lives near Salt Lake City, Utah, with her husband and their clowder of cats.
Caryn is an active member of the League of Utah Writers and the Utah Chapter of the Horror Writers Association.
Based out of the NYC area, Ruby Hankey works as a theatre/film professional in myriad mediums of the arts. As a lover of world travels, tap dance, ukulele, French absurdism and the outdoors, she is always ready for a new adventure. Ruby has choreographed and performed for venues including The Duke Theater, Symphony Space, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Joyce Theatre, Queens Theatre in the Park, Luna Stage and recently appeared in Current Harbor’s ’59RPM at HERE Arts Center! Her latest audiobook, Superhero Syndrome by Caryn Larrinaga is now available.
Except… “Dammit!” I came to a halt beside my car as a thought struck me. I’d certainly be hearing from him again. Or at least I’d be hearing from the hospital when they billed me for my inpatient stay. I didn’t dare guess how much it would cost. No matter the amount, it’d be too much for me to pay. Sliding behind the wheel of my car, where my keys were thankfully still resting on the dash, I felt all the hope and joy from the last few moments seep out of me. I was alive, but what kind of life did I have? I was broke, unemployed, and nobody in the world cared about me. That’s not true. She probably still does. I saw my sister’s face for the second time that evening. I’d been surprised when hers was the image my brain drudged up to show me in my last moments. I don’t know what I’d been expecting to see exactly, but it hadn’t been Bethany.
From sickness to health and…superpowers? How does that happen? If you were dying and one night, something changed all of that—made the pain completely go away—would you question it or thank your lucky stars? Or, in this case…what appears to be a lucky meteor shower. Wait, if another meteor shower came through, does that mean that you might lose them again and be as sick as you were before? So much to think about; it’s a bit unnerving. Well, you won’t have to think about it for too long because Larrinaga has you covered with this effortless spin on superhumans and good vs evil.
Tess has something called the Solstice Syndrome—which means that she’s dying—because there is no cure. What she doesn’t understand is the minute she walks out of that hospital of her own free will, she feels better. It may just be a trick of the mind, but after seeing the meteor shower and then fainting…and then waking up to a dozen onlookers, including a park ranger, she feels like she can take on the world. After a little while, she learns that she can shift into the objects that surround her, or rather she can absorb the elements and use them to her advantage. Now, that isn’t such a great thing if you turn into a giant pillow or can’t get out of the wall, but that’s when you start thinking outside of the box. What can you use these new “gifts” for? Especially when your sister has a deadbeat, abusive husband who has a secret to hide…and that secret may have something to do with all of the girls that are disappearing from the neighboorhood. Finding herself in all of these dilemmas, what can a tiny little woman like her do to help out?
Larrinaga has an appealing story, filled with creativity, originality and fascinating characters. This story has a slight twist to the superhero plot that readers will find enjoyable and the characters are likeable and well-developed as well. The story flows effortlessly with little to no spelling or grammatical errors and the narrator enlivens the story with snarky remarks and fun banter between characters. If you are a reader of fantasy and crime fiction, you may be interested in this first installment. Since this is the first installment in the Solstice Survivors Series, the reader is able to jump right on in.
An audiobook was provided to Turning Another Page by Audiobookworm Promotions and in no way affects the honesty of this review. We provide a five-star rating to The Superhero Syndrome by Caryn Larrinaga.
- Do you believe certain types of writing translate better into audiobook format? I love the way a good first-person story translates into an audiobook. Listening feels like sitting across a table in a coffee shop with a new friend while they tell you an amazing story. The voice and personality of that main character gets to shine so brightly! But I do also enjoy books written in third person, especially horror stories.
- How did you select your narrator? I feel like finding the right narrator is kind of like online dating. You put yourself (or your book) out there and try to make it look attractive, and then you go on the hunt! There’s a huge sea of narrators these days, which is awesome and daunting at the same time. I searched with a few different criteria in mind, inviting different narrators to audition and hoping other great narrators I wasn’t finding on my own were coming across my listing during their searches. I got extremely lucky because not only did Ruby Hankey find me, but she is phenomenal. She perfectly captured Tess’s snarky spirit during her audition, and brought so much heart and character to both the male and female voices that round out the cast. I honestly could not be happier!
- Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing? Yes! The entire idea of a mysterious illness that’s really the onset of superpowers was inspired by one of my own health issues. While my doctors were attempting to diagnose the problem, there were many scans and tests and lots of trial-and-error treatments, during which the pains in my body regularly sent me into an anxiety spiral that usually involved reading about worst-case scenarios on medical websites. One of the few things that could calm me down was imagining that the reason they couldn’t figure out what was going on was because I was actually developing cool superpowers. My condition turned out to be chronic bronchitis coupled with GERD, which is way less scary than most of the stuff I’d been reading about online. Phew! On the downside… no superpowers. Unless you count my ability to consume an inhuman amount of chocolate.
- How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for writing? The most important thing for me is building and sticking to a habit. I write every weekday morning, and try to write in the evenings as well. I use the Pomodoro Technique to maintain focus and be productive, but I do still get burned out on projects sometimes. When that happens, I make myself switch to something else, like a short story in a different genre or taking a stab at a screenplay. As long as I’m typing words, I count that as a success, even if the words I type are horrifyingly awful and I hate them. I’m usually able to switch back to the project I’m supposed to be working on after letting myself mentally run wild.
- Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you? Most definitely! The catch is that I never listen to audiobooks alone, but that’s also what appeals to me most about them. I love listening to a good book in the car or at home with my husband, so we can experience the story together. When I’m by myself, I prefer reading paperbacks because I retain things I read much better than things I see or hear.
- If you had the power to time travel, would you use it? If yes, when and where would you go? I think about this all the time! I’ve made mistakes in my life, usually financial things, and I imagine going back in time to warn myself or my parents “Don’t do that thing! You’ll regret it!” But when I follow the thread of that fantasy, the little butterfly effect changes start stacking up and I realize I probably wouldn’t have met my husband or lived in the house we have now, where a few stray cats forced their way into our lives. I couldn’t risk those relationships. So instead, I just try to live in the present and have gratitude for all the wonderful things in my life right now.
- What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”? Wow, is this something people say? Everyone starts out listening to stories before reading them. If there’s someone out there shaming audiobook listeners, the first thing I’d say is, “Stop it.” Because if they don’t like it, that’s fine, but there’s no wrong way to enjoy a good story. It’s like how everyone has their own learning style; we all have our own leisure style, too. Don’t be ashamed if you prefer one format over another. Whether you prefer ebooks, paperbacks, books, movies, or whatever… just do all of the content creators a favor and leave reviews. 🙂
- What’s your favorite:
- Food: Ensalada mixta with plenty of white wine vinegar and crusty baguette bread to soak it all up.
- Song: Ahh! How do you pick one favorite out of all the millions of amazing songs? Right now, I can’t get enough of “you should see me in a crown” by Billie Eilish, so let’s go with that… knowing it might change tomorrow.
- Book: I’m now firmly regretting my decision to answer this question. What was I thinking, choosing favorites?!?!? A friend forced me to answer this the other day, though, and I said The Shining by Stephen King. I’ll stick to that for now.
- Movie: Hot Fuzz. Hands down. Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright are geniuses.
- Band: Today we’ll say The Glitch Mob. They’re definitely my favorite artist to listen to while writing, anyway.
- Sports team: Athletic Bilbao!
- City: Phew, you ended on an easy one. Gernika, Spain is my favorite city in the entire world and I go there as often as I can afford!
- Are any of those things referenced in appearance in your work?
Sort of. My character Mackenzie in the Donn’s Hill series is a total glutton. I had a massive craving for lemon bars, and they made their way into a scene. In Superhero Syndrome, Tess craves french fries. So my cravings and my favorite things to eat have a habit of making their way onto the page. Apparently I’m always hungry when I’m writing!
- What’s next for you? Right now I’m editing the second book in my supernatural mystery series, Donn’s Hill. That should be out in the fall of 2019, followed by the third book in early 2020. Apart from that, I have a few short horror stories on submission to various markets. I’m just plugging away, but readers can keep up with me at thewordynerd.com and subscribe to my mailing list at carynlarrinaga.com for all the updates (and a free ebook)!
Giveaway: Superhero Syndrome Prize Pack
Plugging you into the audio community since 2016.
Sign up as a tour host here.