arc · review · romance

ARC Review | Church by Stylo Fantome

Church (Church #1)

by Stylo Fantome

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A broken girl.

An unusual boy.

A beautiful face that hides a dark secret and an ugly past.

Sealed lips which hide wicked words and dangerous thoughts.

She would kill for him to love her.

He just wants to kill.

Maybe, if Emma Hartley prays hard enough, Church Logan can make both their wishes come true.

Fuse, meet match.


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I’ve been sitting on this for some time, struggling to come up with words that seamlessly articulate my thoughts and feelings on this dark and twisted story.

To begin: I wouldn’t classify this as dark romance. Rather, I would categorise this as dark, psychological thriller. What the main characters experience isn’t romance. Instead it is an unhealthy “romantic” obsession with each other.

So unhealthy, it drives Emma, our starring female character towards developing a terrifying attachment to Church.

She kept her eyes closed and let out a deep breath. He had a beautiful voice, rich and full. She was glad he didn’t share it with anyone else.

Emma Hartley suffers from deep-seated issues, ranging from crippling low self-esteem, multiple personality disorder, anxiety, etc. After years of suffering from social abandonment and lacking affection, Emma often develops unhealthy attachments to those who grant her attention. So, when she meets the mysterious Church Logan, her mental stability and chaotic emotions take an interesting turn.

She does have a certain charm about her, even I have to admit. Beautiful and damaged, like a rose in a vase. Lovely and doomed to die.

Beneath the quiet, enigmatic personality is someone twisted, awfully strange and outright terrifying, yet intriguing. He isn’t an anti-hero that you will love to hate. He doesn’t even have redeeming qualities really. Yet everyone that surrounds Church is an awe of him, because he is that classic tall, dark, handsome and intelligent character.

In classic Stylo Fantome fashion, Church is shrouded in twisted darkness and interesting turns. While this isn’t my darkest read, I do believe this does deserve a warning as it touches on certain topics ranging from psychosis, self-harm and varying self-esteem issues.

What kind of fell down is my inability to connect with these characters, or to really feel that deep connection or chemistry between them. Emma and Church develop a dangerous and detrimental codependancy that’s far removed from becoming even slightly romantic. They have this vile, toxic relationship that is strangely beguiling and horrendously terrifying.

I’m torn between wanting to rate this four stars (because it is abnormal and interesting) and three stars (because I couldn’t fully connect with these characters). I suspect the next story will be better as everything should hopefully ease into a more deviant and distorted plot line.

It’s the best thing ever, fear. It creates focus. It creates drive. ‘Necessity is the mother of invention’, but what creates necessity? Fear.

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