December by Phil Rickman
|December by Phil Rickman|
|Reviewer: Robert James|
|Summary: This rerelease of one of Phil Rickman's early books is one of the most terrifying reads for ages. With a strong cast and a sinister atmosphere, it's one you shouldn't miss. Just don't read it late at night!|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 608||Date: December 2013|
|Publisher: Atlantic Books|
|External links: Author's website|
On December 8th, 1980, a quartet of musicians record an album in the ruins of a haunted abbey. Tragedy strikes, and they split up, deciding never to work together again. Fourteen years later, they're persuaded to return to confront the evil they discovered - but can they find a way to stop it?
This seemed to take me an age to read - not because I wasn't enjoying it, it was extremely gripping. However, it's so chilling that I was having to force myself not to read it after nine o'clock at night, for fear of giving myself nightmares! As you can tell from that, Rickman creates a real air of menace here - without there being a huge amount of 'big' supernatural happenings. Instead, the tension builds up as we see how the members of the band are coping (or struggling to cope) with the events of 14 years previously, and watch them get drawn into the inevitable reunion. Impressively, even though it's clearly an absolutely crazy idea to have this reunion, Rickman managed to convince me that it was a realistic decision for the characters to make, by railroading them into a position where they were desperate enough to go for it.
The characters, apart from the atmosphere Rickman creates, are the other really strong part of the book. All are very well-developed - with Dave Reilly, haunted by John Lennon, as my personal favourite. There's a large cast which Rickman cuts between quite frequently, especially in the early part of the book before the band get back together. However even when they're reformed, there's still lots of jumps to the other people involved, including a couple of musician-turned-vicar Simon St John's parishioners and fellow band member Tom's daughter and wife. This means it's a long book, and could arguably have been cut down slightly, but it still did a great job of holding my attention. The plot, with plenty of twists and turns, gives us a satisfying resolution as well.
Highly recommended - at least to brave readers! If you're really brave, you can also check out the songs from the book, recorded by Rickman with some friends and available on CD now and as an iTunes download. Check his website for details and samples.
I'm a huge fan of Rickman's Dr Dee books, which start with The Bones of Avalon. Highly recommended!
You can read more book reviews or buy December by Phil Rickman at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy December by Phil Rickman at Amazon.com.
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