When Brianna Forte is made executor of the Clerkwells' estate, she thinks it'll be a simple task to catalogue and liquidate their assets. After all, they lived very modestly, their only apparent interest in life being a large collection of eerily lifelike little figurines called Timeless Innocents.
Exquisitely crafted yet somehow ominously creepy, the figurines are all different and made of some hard fleshlike material. When a parade of sinister characters turn up demanding she sell them the figures, Brianna begins to investigate their originand what she learns will change her life forever...
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About the Author
Janis Susan May Patterson is a 7th-generation Texan and a 3rd-generation writer of mystery, romance, and horror. Once an actress and a singer, Janis has also been editor-in-chief of two multi-magazine publishing groups as well as many other things, including an enthusiastic amateur Egyptologist. Janis’ husband even proposed in a moonlit garden near the Pyramids of Giza. They live in Texas with an assortment of rescued furbabies.
You can find Janis at www.janissusanmay.com.
Read an Excerpt
They were still there.
Brianna Forte blinked again, then rubbed her eyes, but nothing changed. They were still there, hundreds of them in the chilly room.
"Good Heavens," Brianna breathed, somehow unwilling to speak aloud. It was almost as if she were fearful of waking someone, but that was ridiculous. She and Mrs. Tazewell were the only two people in the house, and were likely to be the only ones until she called in the movers. As unbelievable as it seemed, Ralph and Bette were never coming back.
"Yes," said Mrs. Tazewell somewhat sourly. Brianna had guessed the other woman to be at least two generations older. Dressed in what had to be her Sunday best, she was stout and stiff in mind as well as body, and her resentment was as visible on her face as the large liver-colored mole hovering close to her mouth. "These things were their passion. I can't tell you how much they spent on them. Never bought anything lasting or worthwhile, just this dratted Timeless Innocents junk."
Trying to conceal her distaste at such exuberantly floral mass-market polyester, Brianna unconsciously smoothed the skirt of her own Paolucci silk suit and stepped hesitantly into the room. It was quiet in here, so quiet that any sound of her footfalls was swallowed by the thick carpet.
Her attention was consumed by the extent of the collection. She was vaguely familiar with the sort of sweet little figurines that some, usually grandmothers or small girls, regarded as so collectible. Most were of porcelain or vividly colored resin and portrayed either idealized little children or plump cherubs. All had sweet faces and simpering little smiles. Brianna herself owned one, a cherub that held a book and looked up at the world through soulful eyes that resembled those of a sick spaniel. Her grandmother had given it to her when she entered college and for that Brianna loved it, even though it had always been carefully packed away in the linen closet.
These figurines were similar in size and composition, but although Brianna could not quite put her finger on it, there was something about them that was thoroughly different. Something distasteful. Maybe it was their bright soulless gazes or their tight little smiles. Or maybe it was just that there were so many of them. Something.
"I never could understand Bette's fascination with these things," Mrs. Tazewell grumbled. "Don't care for them myself, but I would have seen they were well taken care of. Bette could have trusted me," she said, more than a hint of aggravation in her voice.
"I'm sure Ralph and Bette had their reasons for giving my father authority over their estate," Brianna said. "And since he's still in the hospital I'll do my best to take care of things just as he would have."
"But she was my sister, my blood," Mrs. Tazewell muttered, speaking more to the cosmos than to Brianna, who had moved from her side to the great bookcase where the collection was jammed willy-nilly onto the shelves.
"How many of these are there?" Brianna asked, picking up the closest of the little figurines at random and almost instantly dropping it. Where both porcelain and resin were firm and cool to the fingertips, especially in a room this chill, this little curly-headed boy was warm and yielding to the fingers, almost as if he had been sculpted from living flesh.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Lawyer Brianna Forte needs to take care of the estate of the Clerkwell’s, who were best friends with her Dad before they passed away. The strange thing about the Clerkwells is that they have an entire room filled with collectibles, the so-called Timeless Innocents. In their will, it stipulates how they want people to take care of the collectibles as well. Brianna doesn’t think much about it. She thinks the small figurines, the little people staring back at her curiously from the shelves, are simply plain creepy. She can’t begin to understand why anyone would collect them. But then strange things start to happen at the Clerkwell’s estate, things which Brianna grows to believe, may be connected to the Timeless Innocents… Timeless Innocents is one of the first horror novellas published by Carina Press, and I’m glad they expanded into this genre. I’ve always enjoyed reading horror, and in my opinion, there simply aren’t enough publishers interested in the genre. That said, this book was an enjoyable read, but not a particularly outstanding one. On the one hand, the story feels like it’s too short to really gets its message across, on the other hand it’s suspenseful enough to keep me reading. My major problem was with what happens at the end of the novel, and what the Innocents really turn out to be. To be honest, I went in expecting more. I don’t know why – I’d never read Janis Susan May’s novels before, but the concept of this novella just seemed so intriguing I wanted to give it a try. The novella is definitely intriguing, and it builds up the tension nicely, but the ending falls flat. I’d kind of hoped to get an explanation of why the Timeless Innocents appear to be the cause of everything, and why they appear to be haunted – what about, they become hosts of little kids’ spirits? Now that would’ve been spooky! – but unfortunately no such answers are given. The storyline is fairly predictable. I wasn’t truly scared throughout this book, since I could see the plot twists miles away. That didn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it though. It’s a nice, eerie book, but it’s nothing outstanding. That’s all right though. Not every horror novel needs to be the new “Salem’s Lot” (and even that one had its flaws). This definitely won’t be the last book I’ll read by author Janis Susan May. If I get my hands on another one, I’m definitely trying it. I like those kind of books that are scary, but just not creepy enough to give you the chills. Timeless Innocents definitely belongs in that category. The writing is solid, the characters are interesting and the overall story is enjoyable, albeit a bit predictable. I’d recommend it to everyone who wants a quick, fun read but don’t go in expecting too much.
I started reading this on a Saturday night and didn't stop until I had read the entire story. The twisted ending really surprised me. Thanks for the storey!
As if knick-knacks weren’t creepy enough… Now there’s a book about them too. My review copy of Timeless Innocents was graciously provided by the good folks at Carina Press. Timeless Innocents. Even the name is vaguely creepy, in that way that all collectibles seem to be. There’s always been something just a little off-putting about seeing shelves upon shelves of tiny little people staring back at me. Now I know why. They really are horrid little things – and not just because it takes forever to dust them. Janis Susan May’s novella is a fanciful romp into the dark world of collectibles – and the obsession that underlies the act of collecting. Her version – Timeless Innocents – starts out banal enough. A lawyer is brought in to catalog the collection of a couple that recently died. Things don’t stay banal for long though, as our fearless heroine spends time in the house with the tiny statues (which, personally, I picture as Precious Moments blended with Hummel figurines – if they were designed by Neil Gaiman). There are a few deviations here and there, but the story offers up pretty standard fare. The spunky young lawyer living in her dad’s shadow. The “parade of sinister characters” (quote from the book blurb) all with eerily obsessive interest in the figurines. Mysterious deaths. Noises when your back is turned. An ending that you shouldn’t see coming but somehow do anyway. It’s not a bad little read at all. But it’s not exactly edge-of-your-seat thriller-ness either. There’s something comfortable about the story – you can see what is coming a mile away, but yet it still gives you a goosebump or two every now and again. While it didn’t scare me to the point that I had to put it down, I also wouldn’t have read it while home alone. It’s a pleasant way to spend 99 cents (on kindle) and however long it takes you to read about 25,000/so words – if your idea of pleasant leans toward the designed-by-Neil-Gaiman end of the spectrum.