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DARK DEBTS By Karen Hall – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 19, 2010 by stanleyriiks

Randa Philips gets a call from her ex-boyfriend telling her to come to meet him quickly in the middle of the night. She goes, not even knowing why. But when she arrives, she’s too late. He’s already thrown himself off the top of his building. After committing an armed robbery where he killed someone.

Jack is the last member of his family, he’s not sure how he knows, but he does know that his brother is dead. His third brother to die, the first committing suicide (or possibly killed by their father), the second being executed by the state for murder, and the third again dying at his own hand. The same as their mother and father, both of whom committed suicide. As the town outcast Jack hides in a basement flat and awaits his fate.

Michael is a Jesuit priest struggling with his faith when his grandfather dies. Torn between love and the church, Michael is drawn into a battle between good and evil when he is called upon to be part of an exorcism.

These three very different characters are brought together to be part of the eternal battle as Satanism and devil worship, rape and family curses all come together.

This is a kind of modern retelling of The Exorcist, but not quite as scary. Although this is nice and dark throughout, the end gets a bit too Jesusy for me. I can quite easily believe in demons and dark ghostly figures, but seem to find it much more difficult to believe in good and helpful spirits.

This is a pretty good book, developing nicely as the tale continues. Hall can certainly write, and keeps your intrigues to see how all these disparate threads of plot will come together.

There are a few cringe-worthy moments when you feel Hall is attempting to convert you to Catholicism, but generally these are few and don’t detract too much from the story.

It’s a mystery thriller with a supernatural bent which will keep you reading with excitement to the end.

DARKER By Simon Clark – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 6, 2009 by stanleyriiks

Richard Young, his wife and their four year old daughter Amy wave off Mark, their eldest child as he goes camping with friends. Little knowing that this week, while their son is away, they will be in a race for their lives across the UK, fighting to stay alive as they are chased round the country by a huge, invisible, crushing thing. They are joined in their plight by a multi-millionaire, Michael, who believes what he calls “the beast” can be controlled and he has a team of scientists trying to work out how to contain the ancient power.

This has a fairly slow start, not really much happening for the first sixty or seventy pages, as everyone is introduced and the happy family angle is played up. But when the action does kick it it’s full steam ahead, a frantic chase as the beast chases the family and their visitor Michael, who drip-feeds them information. All the while they are also chased by Rosemary Snow who is somehow linked to Amy, and knows just what a bad man Michael really is. He tried to kill her.

Mmm… While you’re reading this it’s actually quite good, typical thriller, full-on action which doesn’t give you a chance to think. You go along with the story because it keeps you entertained, you ignore the implausibility because it’s fun, you ignore the lack of good characters because the story sweeps you up. And it really does, despite its many errors and mistakes, and a complete disregard for the use of the comma, the story sweeps you up like a whirlwind, swings you round and won’t let you go till it’s finished with you and chucks you out the other end! Ok, so we don’t really care what happens to these people, the explanations are fairly implausible and at times ridiculous, as though the plot hasn’t really been thought out that much. But this is like a rollercoaster ride of a novel, you enjoy it while you’re enthralled in the action, despite the fact you’re left wondering “was that it?” at the end.

Clark is a much better writer than this book shows him to be. Fun, exciting, but lacking in substance.