Solid debut from Marcus Hawke – in more ways than one. A mighty tome filled with tons of vivid characters, led by one of the most relateable main protags I’ve seen in a long time, Mason Cole.
Steeped in religious mysticism, this book packs a punch, Hawke unafraid to ramp up the horror when it’s needed. I liked his relaltionship with Rose, the depth and emotional texture she added to the story. Also enjoyed the idea of a holy militia, a useful plot device to explain the concept behind Mason’s newly-realised power. Grim also is an excellent character, acting as a mentor as Cole comes to terms with his losses and begins to understand his role in the world, preparing him for the final confrontation with the Big Bad and setting us up for what I hope is a sequel.
The writing is confident, witty and impressive. Versatile. That said, at times it has a tendency to ramble – often an issue when deep concepts have to be explained – so in parts, maybe the novel would have benefitted from a tighter structure with less tendency to throw us (me, lol) out of the narrative. However, now that the premise has been fully grounded, if there is to be a sequel, I’d expect it to be full sail ahead for an even more brilliant read.
Have you ever wondered if there’s more to life? If we are destined for something great, part of a divine plan rather than just subjects of random chaos? Mason Cole has wondered these things. And he has the answer… No. How could that be when his parents were killed in an earthquake that destroyed the city of Jerusalem, yet he alone survived? How could he be destined for great things when he’s stuck in a town-shaped reststop where nothing he does makes a difference? And why would God do this to him in the first place?
Then one day a stranger passes through town, bringing with him a unique explanation of his past, one he never could have imagined, and wishes he could forget. It sounds like something from one of his books, only this time it’s happening to him, and it becomes clear that not every miracle is a blessing. Now, with a red-haired devil hell bent on possessing him for his own sinister gains, Mason must discover the answers to these questions if he ever hopes to survive in a world where the dark no longer hides that which dwells within.
“A rollercoaster of horror and tension.”
—Michael Benevidez, author of When Angels Fail: As The Shadows Grow
“This book does not hold back, it does not shy away from the nitty-gritty, and certainly keeps you coming back for more.”
—Sabrina Voerman, author of Red
“I can’t say enough for this masterwork. It’s clever and funny as hell while being torturously terrifying.”
—Caleb Ryan, The Bookeyman