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Cardinal Rules

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The end of May approaches, and college is done for the spring semester. Professors prepare for their summer courses while students go home to their families for a much-needed break. Everybody except for DJ, who decides to stay behind and reflect on his damaged history with his abusive father and the recent loss of his mother. It wasn't until his very close friend Aurora in The end of May approaches, and college is done for the spring semester. Professors prepare for their summer courses while students go home to their families for a much-needed break. Everybody except for DJ, who decides to stay behind and reflect on his damaged history with his abusive father and the recent loss of his mother. It wasn't until his very close friend Aurora invites him to go with her for a getaway at her hometown's gay pride party to live it up for the weekend. With reluctance towards the LGBTQ+ community, he decides to go. He invites his sister, Sierra, along with her friends, Greg and Justin to join them for a fun-filled weekend that they would never forget. At first, DJ has a great time making new friends and getting involved with a community that he was apprehensive about being a part of since he began living fully as his authentic self. His adventures were quickly soiled by a stalker lurking around to torment him. It's not just any old stalker. It's a cardinal! One by one, patrons go missing at the hands of the deranged killer. Can DJ save himself and his acquaintances before the masked cardinal takes their lives? Will this pride be canceled from all of the mysterious murders? Cardinal Rules is a twist between '80s and '90s slasher horror and the LGBTQ+ community, filled with blood, gore, and a little glitter. It's time to put pride back in murder!


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The end of May approaches, and college is done for the spring semester. Professors prepare for their summer courses while students go home to their families for a much-needed break. Everybody except for DJ, who decides to stay behind and reflect on his damaged history with his abusive father and the recent loss of his mother. It wasn't until his very close friend Aurora in The end of May approaches, and college is done for the spring semester. Professors prepare for their summer courses while students go home to their families for a much-needed break. Everybody except for DJ, who decides to stay behind and reflect on his damaged history with his abusive father and the recent loss of his mother. It wasn't until his very close friend Aurora invites him to go with her for a getaway at her hometown's gay pride party to live it up for the weekend. With reluctance towards the LGBTQ+ community, he decides to go. He invites his sister, Sierra, along with her friends, Greg and Justin to join them for a fun-filled weekend that they would never forget. At first, DJ has a great time making new friends and getting involved with a community that he was apprehensive about being a part of since he began living fully as his authentic self. His adventures were quickly soiled by a stalker lurking around to torment him. It's not just any old stalker. It's a cardinal! One by one, patrons go missing at the hands of the deranged killer. Can DJ save himself and his acquaintances before the masked cardinal takes their lives? Will this pride be canceled from all of the mysterious murders? Cardinal Rules is a twist between '80s and '90s slasher horror and the LGBTQ+ community, filled with blood, gore, and a little glitter. It's time to put pride back in murder!

39 review for Cardinal Rules

  1. 4 out of 5

    Karla Kay

    "Now, son...if you ever feel alone, or that nobody ever understands you, just look at this bird and know that I will always be there for you, even when times are tough. All you have to do is think like a bird and rise above." The main character focus is D.J. His life has never been easy and he struggles with his unpleasant past. He is trying to learn to love himself and rectify broken relationships. Attending a Pride Party with his best friend, he encounters more than he bargained for and he stru "Now, son...if you ever feel alone, or that nobody ever understands you, just look at this bird and know that I will always be there for you, even when times are tough. All you have to do is think like a bird and rise above." The main character focus is D.J. His life has never been easy and he struggles with his unpleasant past. He is trying to learn to love himself and rectify broken relationships. Attending a Pride Party with his best friend, he encounters more than he bargained for and he struggles through the weekend, adding to his reluctance of not wanting to go in the first place. But the most frightening, is that someone is stalking him and murdering people in the community. There is depth in this story. Very character driven, some lovable, some irritating, but it adds authenticity and diversity. It includes detailed back stories of the characters adding more depth to the characters. It also includes real world issues; such as, abuse, homophobia, racism, the struggle of self-love and acceptance of others. Humanity! It is also filled with mystery and suspense, murder and betrayal. The reveal of the murderer honestly had me in shock, I had no clue who it was or the reason behind it. Those last chapters were dripping with tension! The author has shared on the author page and on IG that some of the hardships and issues in this story are some of his personal experiences, which adds a richness to his debut. It gave me lots of feels , but all in all, I really enjoyed the suspense! Part of the description includes that this is a twist between 80s and 90s slasher horror and the LGBT+ community, filled with blood, gore, and a little glitter. I would recommend: finding a favorite cozy reading spot, a favorite drink, maybe a favorite snack and just enjoy! "The only person that wasn't soaking in the fulfillment of life's beauty was myself, and I only had myself to blame." I received a complimentary copy for an honest review. Thank you so much! I wish you all the best!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Phil Dowell (philsbookcorner)

    If you've been on the hunt for a book that perfectly captures the essence of '80s & '90s slashers but with a modern (gay) twist, look no further than Brady Phoenix's "Cardinal Rules"! This was such a fun read from start to finish, one that truly unfolded like a classic slasher film! I absolutely loved the setting of a Pride festival, it made for a really memorable location with a pretty diverse cast of characters you won't find in many other horror novels. This wasn't just set at Pride to get so If you've been on the hunt for a book that perfectly captures the essence of '80s & '90s slashers but with a modern (gay) twist, look no further than Brady Phoenix's "Cardinal Rules"! This was such a fun read from start to finish, one that truly unfolded like a classic slasher film! I absolutely loved the setting of a Pride festival, it made for a really memorable location with a pretty diverse cast of characters you won't find in many other horror novels. This wasn't just set at Pride to get some LGBTQ+ brownie points - without spoiling anything, I really appreciated just how big of a role queerness played in the story. Although I wasn't surprised by the reveal, I was genuinely caught off guard by the "why" - Brady crafted a unique (& believable) motivation for the killer here. I'm a big fan of alternating timelines & Brady did a great job here of weaving the past & present together, really adding to the story's suspense, particularly throughout the final act. Overall, I had a great time with "Cardinal Rules" & feel like this really adds something unique to the genre that we haven't seen before! Thank you so much to Brady for sending me a copy of your book in exchange for a honest review, I wish you all the best of luck with your debut & can't wait to see what you do next!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jami

    This book is SO FUN to read. I found myself stealing pages while cooking; couldn’t put it down. Brady Phoenix’s love of 80s/90s style slasher/horror films comes through in a big way with his debut book, “Cardinal Rules”. The story’s main character is DJ, who has some reservations about the LGBTQIA+ community, but decides to go out of town and embrace his true self with friends at a Pride festival. Little does he know that there is a stalker in his midst. Can he and his friends survive the weeken This book is SO FUN to read. I found myself stealing pages while cooking; couldn’t put it down. Brady Phoenix’s love of 80s/90s style slasher/horror films comes through in a big way with his debut book, “Cardinal Rules”. The story’s main character is DJ, who has some reservations about the LGBTQIA+ community, but decides to go out of town and embrace his true self with friends at a Pride festival. Little does he know that there is a stalker in his midst. Can he and his friends survive the weekend? I absolutely loved the old school slasher vibes. The banter between characters was catty and realistic and so much fun to read. There are also times when the book got serious about some real issues (namely homophobia and racism). In short, this book has it all. One part was so deliciously outrageous (I won’t spoil it) that I literally messaged the author, “DID THAT REALLY JUST HAPPEN?!” 😂 I have been following Brady for a while because I love horror and he’s such a fun and interesting person. When he started promoting his new book I scoped it out and was sold with his description: “Cardinal Rules is a twist between ‘80s and ‘90s slasher horror and the LGBTQ+ community, filled with blood, gore, and a little glitter.” I mean, enough said. Sold. Thank you so much to the author for providing me an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Can’t wait to see what he comes up with next!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Tyler Bloodworth

    Was a good fast paced read, took me awhile to figure out who the killer was. Really enjoyed the ending. I just don’t know that the motive was convincing as I wished it could have been!!! Would be a good teen slasher movie!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Alex | | findingmontauk1

    A queer slasher that exudes 80s/90s movie vibes? SIGN! ME! UP! CARDINAL RULES by Brady Phoenix was everything I needed right now and didn't even know it. Those who know me know that I *LOVE* slasher horror - so much that I started a podcast dedicated to the best and worst slasher movies of the 80s this year! So when I heard about Cardinal Rules I knew I had to have it. And I could not put it down! You know how so many 80s/90s horror movies set you up with a mysterious background, some main charact A queer slasher that exudes 80s/90s movie vibes? SIGN! ME! UP! CARDINAL RULES by Brady Phoenix was everything I needed right now and didn't even know it. Those who know me know that I *LOVE* slasher horror - so much that I started a podcast dedicated to the best and worst slasher movies of the 80s this year! So when I heard about Cardinal Rules I knew I had to have it. And I could not put it down! You know how so many 80s/90s horror movies set you up with a mysterious background, some main characters, a basic plot outline, and then take place at a summer camp? Well, this one does similar things but then takes place during a PRIDE weekend and some of the hotspots stemming from that. YES! And once the parties start then the body count begins to rise. There are some real fun death scenes in this, too! And a costumed slasher is always fun - like who does not want to read about or see a killer dressed up like a cardinal with razor talons?! This book begins with a traumatic domestic incident and flashes back to the life/lives impacted by said event throughout the book. You definitely know someone is not being honest but you do not have a clue who is behind these grizzly murders at this weekend Pride celebration. As the story goes on, the past is uncovered more, and even more people start to die, everything starts coming full circle and it definitely sent me! There are some characters I loved to love... and, well, a few more that I couldn't wait to meet The Cardinal. On a deeper level, this book does explore some of the bullying, racism, shaming, and toxicity within the LGBTQ+ community (so be ready for that). In a community longing for equality and acceptance there sure is a lot of tearing others down. I thought this level of complexity added a whole new meaning behind this book as well and the author was definitely able to execute this effectively. In the end, I just had such a blast with Cardinal Rules and definitely recommend it! 4 stars! Thanks to the author for a review copy!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Christine M.

    When Dj finds himself forced to attend an LGBTQ festival with friends, he has no clue what chaos he is about to get himself into. Lots of mystery and backstory that keeps you guessing and love the banter between characters throughout that makes the story very refreshing. Love the story. Brady did a terrific job.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lala

    I was given this book for an honest review. I absolutely loved reading this book! There is a predictability that is very prominent in 80s and 90s slasher movies. It was no surprise who the killer was. The motive was what surprised me. It was full of flashbacks that helped explain why the killer became so deadly. I also liked that the point of view was in multiple characters, so the showing vs. telling was okay for me. If it had too much showing, I would think that it would take the reader out of I was given this book for an honest review. I absolutely loved reading this book! There is a predictability that is very prominent in 80s and 90s slasher movies. It was no surprise who the killer was. The motive was what surprised me. It was full of flashbacks that helped explain why the killer became so deadly. I also liked that the point of view was in multiple characters, so the showing vs. telling was okay for me. If it had too much showing, I would think that it would take the reader out of viewing it from an outside perspective. The characterization was interesting that there are gay characters that are placed in the story as caricatures like we see in horror movies (jock, nerd, slut, minority, drug user). I thought that the extremes of the characters worked for the story to make the horror labels evident. As a reader, I felt like I was watching a cheesy horror movie without turning on the tv! It also doesn’t take itself too seriously like horror normally doesn’t, and neither should the readers! The book highlighted many issues that are relatable like racism, LGBT discrimination, child abuse, etc. and I loved how the author twisted those issues from an LGBT perspective. There may be an opportunity or two that could be better like the pacing, but I’m giving it five stars because it is a new story with paying homage to the horror stories that we all have grown to love, and including characters that are not straight or white. There were no loose ends which is great! Horror needs to be celebrated with people that aren’t who we have grown up seeing majority of the time. Gay people and people of color can be a final girl/guy and be looked at as a strong character too! I can’t wait to see what is next from the author! Congratulations.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Scott Donnelly

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Brady Phoenix’s debut, “Cardinal Rules”, is a love letter to slasher films of the 80s and 90s, while also blending in some very real world problems. Phoenix is a powerful voice for the LGBTQ community, bringing awareness to the issues the community unfortunately faces daily. He does this, however, by inserting the topic flawlessly into a genre most people are familiar and comfortable with - a slasher. Quick plot: DJ is talked into going to a pride parade with friends, and soon finds himself stal Brady Phoenix’s debut, “Cardinal Rules”, is a love letter to slasher films of the 80s and 90s, while also blending in some very real world problems. Phoenix is a powerful voice for the LGBTQ community, bringing awareness to the issues the community unfortunately faces daily. He does this, however, by inserting the topic flawlessly into a genre most people are familiar and comfortable with - a slasher. Quick plot: DJ is talked into going to a pride parade with friends, and soon finds himself stalked by a hooded and masked maniac looking to slice up everyone in sight. It is strongly reminiscent of a 90s slasher with its characters and wit. It’s gory, suspenseful, and will keep you on your toes with an ominous backstory and super creepy villain (I could picture this killer on a big screen). I thought I had the villain picked out from the moment a certain character was first mentioned...but, there was a situation with an axe that closed the door on that theory. If you like a good mystery, throwback slasher story (I appreciated the nods to Urban Legend and I Know What You Did Last Summer), grab a copy of “Cardinal Rules.”

  9. 5 out of 5

    Micheline Nushpa

    I don't normally choose a horror novel but this one was a who done it that I just couldn't figure out. Held my interest to the very end! I don't normally choose a horror novel but this one was a who done it that I just couldn't figure out. Held my interest to the very end!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Shawn

  11. 5 out of 5

    Matt

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sherri

  13. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Boyer

  14. 5 out of 5

    Josh

  15. 4 out of 5

    Brady Phoenix

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kristin Kracke

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

  18. 4 out of 5

    Bex

  19. 5 out of 5

    Zak

  20. 4 out of 5

    Courtnie Pollard

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ramiro

  22. 4 out of 5

    M - The long hot spell

  23. 5 out of 5

    Brett Burkhardt

  24. 5 out of 5

    Cheyenne Smidt

  25. 4 out of 5

    Travys Velez

  26. 4 out of 5

    Reed

  27. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay

  28. 5 out of 5

    Tara

  29. 5 out of 5

    Zogan Sada

  30. 4 out of 5

    Nate Guerra

  31. 4 out of 5

    Hatchet Mouth

  32. 4 out of 5

    WORDS ON PAPER

  33. 5 out of 5

    Stefano

  34. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

  35. 4 out of 5

    Riley Smith

  36. 4 out of 5

    Ricky Rodriguez

  37. 5 out of 5

    Robby

  38. 5 out of 5

    Mark

  39. 5 out of 5

    Maddy

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