Blog Tour with Review – Struck by Clarissa Johal

Welcome to the blog tour celebrating the 1 Year Anniversary of the release of Paranormal Gothic Horror Novel ~STRUCK by Clarissa Johal.  

Follow the tour (schedule posted below) to read new reviews, interviews with Clarissa, and exclusive excerpts.

“The shadows hadn’t been waiting. The shadows had been invited.”


~ Synopsis ~

After a painful breakup, Gwynneth Reese moves in with her best friend and takes a job at a retirement home. She grows especially close to one resident, who dies alone the night of a terrific storm. On the way home from paying her last respects, Gwynneth is caught in another storm and is struck by lightning. She wakes in the hospital with a vague memory of being rescued by a mysterious stranger. Following her release from the hospital, the stranger visits her at will and offers Gwynneth a gift–one that will stay the hands of death. Gwynneth is uncertain whether Julian is a savior or something more sinister… for as he shares more and more of this gift, his price becomes more and more deadly.

~ Book Details

Genre: Paranormal Gothic Horror
Author(s): Clarissa Johal
Number of Pages: 255

~ Excerpt ~

“Hey! Hey there.” A light drawl entered her subconscious.

“She can’t sleep here.”

“She’s not sleeping, Dante. She passed out, duh. Why do you have to be such an asshole? Hey there.”

Gwynneth opened her eyes. Red hair blazed against the light.

“Well, hello.” Red ponytail sat back on her heels and smiled. She would have looked like a model in any other surroundings.

The stark room was lit by florescent overhead lights and contained a single stainless steel sink and table. It was the same room Gwynneth had walked into moments ago, except she was acquainting herself with its concrete floor. A sheet had been pulled over Hannah’s body. She focused again on her attendant.

“You’ve never seen a dead body before?” Earnest blue eyes made the question less ridiculous than it sounded.


“You can sit as long as you need to.” She patted Gwynneth on the arm. “I’ll just finish up, and then you can have your time. My name’s Poppy, by the way.” She held out her hand.

She shook it and tried to not think about where Poppy’s hand had probably been moments ago.

“This here’s Dante. He’s an asshole, but he grows on you, like most of them do.”

Gwynneth glanced up at Dante and scrambled to her feet.

He scowled back at her. “My parents were professors of Medieval Literature,” he intoned.

I’m sure they were, Gwynneth thought.

“Be nice, Dante. She didn’t say anything about your name. Honestly, you think everyone is laughing about you behind your back. And they aren’t, you know.” Poppy picked up a make-up brush and dabbed it into a glass jar. Beige powder dusted her pink mini-dress. The dress had little white flowers scattered across the hem and looked completely out of place in the somberness of the surroundings.

Gwynneth glanced at the sheet and Poppy stopped, mid-pull.

“Do you want to wait in the hall until I’m done? I don’t mind staying later while you have your time alone, but I do need to get this make-up finished. This job is anything but nine-to-five.”

“I-I don’t want to take up your time—”

“Everyone else does. Why not?” Dante grumbled.

“He’s just grumpy because he had to stay late,” Poppy said. “People don’t die just to inconvenience you, Dante.”

“Oh yes, they do.”

“He doesn’t mean it.”

Gwynneth caught Dante’s glare. “I’ll just pay my respects while you finish up. Thank you.”

“Calm down. It’s not going to smudge, if that’s what you’re worried about,” Poppy said as she pulled the sheet back.

Hannah looked different, Gwynneth noted. Younger and…wrong. At the retirement home, she’d always had dark circles under her eyes and wore no make-up. Here, the dark circles were gone and she had on mascara, rouge, and even lipstick.

“She would never have worn red,” Gwynneth murmured.

“Well, that’s what she told me earlier, but I think it looks best with her skin tone.”

“Excuse me?”

Poppy continued dusting around Mrs. Engle’s mouth and nose. “She’s been complaining for the past hour, telling me she looks like a harlot.”

Gwynneth glanced at Dante, who seemed unruffled. “But Mrs. Engel is dead.”

“They talk to her,” Dante said.

“Yes, they do,” Poppy added emphatically.

“I’ll be upstairs, finishing up the paperwork.” Dante made a show of checking his expensive-looking watch. “Let me know when you’re done.” He gave Gwynneth the evil eye.

“Right now,” Poppy continued, “I’m pretty sure Betsy’s telling me that I need to have my make-up license taken away.” She waved her make-up brush at Hannah’s face. “And don’t think that because you’re speaking in German, I don’t understand that you’re using cuss words, because I do. You don’t shock me a bit, missy.”

“Her name is Hannah.”

“What’s that now?”

“You called her Betsy? Her name is…was Hannah. Hannah Engel.”

“She says they called her Betsy when she was a child. It makes her happy.”

Gwynneth wondered if she was the butt of some sick, funeral home joke. She forced a small smile.

“So, which color, then?” Poppy wiped the red lipstick from Hannah’s mouth and pulled a plethora of other lip colors from her make-up kit. “Anything to stop your belly-aching. I may not understand German, but I know you’re upset right now. Your children want to see some color on your face. It gives them a good impression of the afterlife.”

Gwynneth’s reality was in danger of shifting ever-so-slightly, and rather than admit that even crazy people needed to work for a living, she chose to ignore Poppy’s oddball behavior. If she worked with dead people all day long, Gwynneth imagined she’d probably end up talking to them too. “Actually, Hannah never wore any make-up. She said it was too much trouble.” Once again, shock threatened to overtake her, along with the coldness of the room. She shook it off with a shudder.

“Most of them feel that way once they get checked into those retirement homes. It’s like they give up. But like I was telling Betsy,” she persisted, “the ones left behind like to see you at your best. A little blusher here, a smudge of eye shadow there… It’s all good.” She waved her make-up brush at Gwynneth. “Now, when we get an accident or murder victim in, there’s a challenge. Their face is like a puzzle.” Poppy stopped herself. “I’m sorry. I forget you’re not used to this. Okay, we’ll go with a lighter pink, then. Is that okay with you, Betsy?” She waited for a beat. “We’ve already discussed the eye shadow, and it stays,” she continued firmly. “I’ll concede with the light pink, but if I don’t do some eye shadow, your eyes are going to look flat.” Poppy pulled a brush from its cover and softened the lipstick down. “You have to stand firm with the dead, or they’ll just push you around. Last week, we got this gentleman in that was so afraid I was going to put make-up on his face that he yelled at me the whole time I massaged his arms and legs down and pumped him full of fluid. Thought I was going to make him look like a drag-queen. I was tempted, trust me. I couldn’t wait to wire his mouth shut, for all the good it did.” She snapped her make-up kit closed and turned her attention back to Gwynneth. “I think she is glad you’re here, by the way. I don’t know what she’s so upset about.” She glanced over her shoulder. “She’s paying her last respects, Betsy. It’s what people do.”

Poppy gathered her sixties-style coat and handbag and paused, as if listening to something. “Gwynneth? Right. She kept a diary, Gwynneth. Under the fifth wood plank in her room. You need to get it. Don’t give it to her children. They wouldn’t understand.” She cocked her head and winced. “Darn it. There was something else. She had to go.” Poppy dragged the ponytail elastic from her long red hair. “Anyway, have your time together. Come get me when you’re done. I’ll be upstairs. Close the door behind you so it stays cool in here.”

Stunned speechless, Gwynneth watched Poppy shut the door, leaving her alone with the body. Well…with Hannah.

~ Review by Angela ~

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*

I was completely blown away by this book. I had no idea what to expect when I picked it up and I was glued to the pages the entire time. There was so much going on and all of it was hidden and Clarissa only allows you to see small snippets. I couldn’t figure out what was going on, if Julian was a good guy or a bad guy, or whether Gwen was going nuts. I was definitely intrigued by the story and didn’t form an opinion until towards the end.

Speaking of the end, I did have a bit of an issue with the end. There is a moment that I cannot speak about because it will be a spoiler, but it kind of irked me because it was too quick. It seemed like It could have been written a little differently and it would have been much better and more believable. But, I understand why it happened and I know that it was the right decision. I just didn’t like the execution of it. Is it enough for me to not like it or not recommend it? No. It’s just a personal irritation of mine that most people may not even pick up on.

This story has a lot of different aspects in it: there is humor, romance, suspense, action, and drama. This is a read that will keep you on the edge of your seat for the entire time. Clarissa will take you on a roller coaster of a ride that will leave you breathless and your heart pounding. It is a very hard read to put down once you start. I absolutely loved her gay friend Fenten and loved how doting Seth was. The book made me hungry all the time because Seth liked to cook so he was always cooking some yummy food. It made me wish I had a Seth in my life. I give this 4.5 books.










~ Purchase Links ~


Musa Publishing

Barnes and Noble

~ About the Author ~

Clarissa Johal has worked as a veterinary assistant, zoo-keeper aide and vegetarian chef. Writing has always been her passion. When she’s not listening to the ghosts in her head, she’s dancing or taking photographs of gargoyles. She shares her life with her husband, two daughters and every stray animal that darkens the doorstep. One day, she expects that a wayward troll will wander into her yard, but that hasn’t happened yet.
*Member of the Author’s Guild
Coming May 19, 2015 from Permuted Press VOICES, a paranormal psychological horror
STRUCK, a paranormal gothic horror (2014) Musa Publishing
*Indie Book of the Day Award
*Nominated for the Preditors and Editors Readers Poll 2014
BETWEEN, a story of the paranormal (2012) Musa Publishing
*Second place in the Preditors and Editors Readers Poll 2012
*Paranormal Reads gives BETWEEN 4 out of 5 Bats
PRADEE, a young adult fantasy (2010) CreateSpace
*Second round finalist in Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award Contest 2012
Short stories:
PIGEONS, published in the literary journal Susurrus
THE ROPE, published in the literary journal Susurrus
A WAY OF LIFE, published in The Sacramento Bee

~ Author Links ~

Author Website

Amazon Author Page

Author Blog

Author Facebook Page


Author Goodreads


~ Praise for STRUCK ~

Lovely Reads

“This book grabs you in right away and hold your attention…I so loved this book and didn’t put it down until the very end.” Read More ~ Lovely Reads

Bex ‘n’ Books

“This is a spooky thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat. You won’t be able to put it down because you must finish it to see what happens, even if it keeps you up late at night to do so.” Read More ~ Bex’n’Books

Bibliophilic Book Blog

“STRUCK will get beneath your skin from the very beginning. Gwen’s a likable character with a difficult past and tenuous future after meeting Julian. I liked the secondary characters, especially Fenten and Poppy. The characters were definitely all well-developed and engaging.” Read More ~ Bibliophilic Book Blog

Straight from the Library

“The characters are well drawn and likable….The action is fast paced– I read the book in one sitting.” Read More ~ Straight from the Library

~ Frequently Asked Questions ~

How did you come up with the idea for STRUCK?
Some stories begin as random scenes, some as characters, and some are born from asking the question, “What if?” I was hit with the idea of STRUCK while running on a forest trail near my house. It was during a thunderstorm and I wondered what it would be like to be hit by lightning. I write about ghosts and things that go bump in the night and in essence, those entities are energy. What if a portal was opened by a lightning strike? And what if that portal allowed the energy from those entities to escape? The idea was intriguing and I went to bed still thinking about it. That night, I dreamt I stood in a field, with lightning striking the ground all around me. But the lightning wasn’t just releasing electrical energy, the lightning was releasing negative entities from the Otherworld. I woke from the nightmare in a panic, thinking those entities had somehow attached themselves to me. And so a story is born.
I went on to research the effects of being struck by lightning, interviewed several lightning survivors, and began writing STRUCK. I’m continually amazed how a, “What if?” idea can expand into a novel.
What first inspired you to become a writer? And what compels you to continue your career as an author?
I wrote my first short story in grade six. I was asked by the teacher to read it aloud to the class, which terrified me. After I was finished, I realized that I actually had everyone’s attention! I was shy and we moved every year, so I was always the new kid. When you’re in that situation, it’s kind of like being invisible. Finding my voice through story-telling made me realize how powerful writing could be. As far as continuing—truthfully? I think I’d go nuts if I didn’t write.
What made you choose the genre of paranormal gothic horror?
I started out writing fantasy fiction. I was working on the second installment to my PRADEE series when there were two characters that kept showing up on the page, over and over. They didn’t belong in fantasy novel, nor did they belong in my story! But their backstory came to me so vividly, that I set aside my series and wrote my first paranormal novel, BETWEEN. I’ve been pulled into the Otherworld permanently now. The ideas come faster than I can write them down.
Tour Presented by:

~ Tour Schedule ~

January 1: Tour Kick-Off

January 2: Exclusive Excerpt

January 4: Review

January 5: Review

January 7: Exclusive Excerpt

January 9: Exclusive Excerpt

January 12: Review

January 15: Exclusive Excerpt

January 17: Review

January 19: Exclusive Excerpt

January 20: Exclusive Excerpt

January 21: Interview

January 23: Exclusive Excerpt

January 26: Interview

January 28: Review

January 31: Reviews (by 3 different tour hosts)




2 responses to “Blog Tour with Review – Struck by Clarissa Johal

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