Hekla's Children by James Brogden
|Hekla's Children by James Brogden|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: Scary horror that begins with an innocent school trip and ends with…. This is a writer who knows how to keep us up at night!|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 400||Date: March 2017|
|Publisher: Titan Books|
|External links: Author's website|
Nathan has a steady job as an outdoor pursuits instructor but that's not his first career. Ten years earlier he'd been a teacher when it all went dreadfully wrong during an orienteering event for his secondary school students. Four young people disappeared suddenly but only one was found. Malnourished and in shock, Olivia was never able to tell anyone what happened. A decade later a body is found, Nathan starts having hallucinations and Olivia crosses his path again. Whatever began that day isn't finished. Evil will find a way through.
Aussie born, Bromsgrove adopted knows what a teacher's worst nightmare the premise for this book would be. He is a teacher. Therefore who better to write a story that starts with a school trip and then just goes to hell in a handcart in a very good way (from we readers' viewpoint).
Character-wise it's Nathan's gig and so he's the guy with the depth but that doesn't matter. Once the compelling plot line leads us in and the knife hits the vein, we're so intrigued that everyone else could be a complete wooden top and we wouldn't mind. (They aren't wooden though so fear not… well… don't fear about that bit anyway. There's plenty of other avenues along which to expend your fear.)
By the way, I mentioned vein because there are scenes of exsanguination and near exsanguination so perhaps one for the squeamish to read from behind the sofa.
Throughout it all we're drawn to Nathan who may be a bit of a twit but he more than paid for a mistake that he's living with for life. All he wants is to be able to put it behind him and form a relationship with the love of his life while she's being either argumentative, unattainable or both. Meeting Barkfoot, a man of many parts, and his associates isn't what Nathan signed up for.
Hekla's Children has homage-type echoes of The Weirdstone of Brisingamen by Alan Garner which scared me just as deliciously as a child. The novels share the idea of a past warrior being discovered; producing mayhem and supernatural happenings but this book is most definitely for adults and follows its own path.
This Alan Garner connection dawned on me before going to James' blog and there he confirms it, along with the other influences on his work and life, making some more fascinating reading. Sorry – I digress… meanwhile back at the book…
Gradually the truth of the disappearances comes out and our perceptions shift. There's a good reason why Olivia has taken to drugs to dull her terrifying knowledge. The reason unsurprisingly includes what happened to the children, which is revealed in flash backs that are gut wrenching and unputdownable. Personally I've never gasped at the sudden realisation of a leg's identity before this novel; such is the power of Mr Brogden's pen.
We can tell that James got as much fun out of writing this as we do from reading it; especially in the final third when that happens and he… Let's just say it's an unforgettable thrilling climax! Indeed James writes with imagination, authority and gets a highly recommended B+ from me. I'm definitely looking forward to what Mr B thinks up next.
(A big thank you to Titan for providing us with a copy for review.)
Further Reading: If you like to raise a few neck hairs, we also heartily recommend… Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt which brings us a whole town living in terror and/or Under A Watchful Eye by Adam Nevill about a murky past that won't let go.
You can read more book reviews or buy Hekla's Children by James Brogden at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Hekla's Children by James Brogden at Amazon.com.
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