The Fallen (The Darkest Hand) by Tarn Richardson

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The Fallen (The Darkest Hand) by Tarn Richardson

Category: Horror
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Ani Johnson
Reviewed by Ani Johnson
Summary: Part 2 of the WWI inspired fantasy/horror The Darkest Hand Trilogy brings more twists and turns as well as much more blood and guts. Scary and exciting stuff for those who enjoy their alternative history dark, gooey and very sticky.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 352 Date: May 2016
Publisher: Gerald Duckworth & Co Ltd
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0715650592

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1915 and the war continues, not just as the conflict that will come to be known as World War I but a more supernatural fight between good and evil. The dark forces continue to move across a darkened Europe, evidenced by the increase in demon possession and hideously misshapen babies. When the Vatican fountain produces blood rather than water, the world knows that the events spoken of in Revelation may be underway. Inquisitor Poldek Tacit still has the will to fight but he's just one man. Will one man be enough?

Tarn Richardson enjoys combining history with fantasy and horror as we can see in this, part two of his WWI The Darkest Hand trilogy. The first part took us to the trenches in France. Now we travel with the Italians to the Austro-Hungarian front. (By the way, before going any further, please read Book 1 first, or spoilers may lead to regret.)

The Italians entered the war in 1915 with a specific remit to subdue the Austrian/Hungarian Empire. This meant digging in to inhospitable terrain that may have been rockier than the mud the French and British were wading through in France but no less formidable. In fact the novel builds towards one of the most notorious areas: the mountain town of Carso in Slovenia which provides a stunning climax to this episode as well as continuing the war's high mortality and casualty rate.

While following the army we're interested in one particular recruit. Not every solider is delivered to their unit by a cohort of Catholic priests and yet Pablo is. Why the special interest in one young, apparently mundane soldier? While we wait to find out, we warm to the lad and fear for him as he becomes our eyes for this segment of the Italian campaign. That's not his only use in the novel though.

Meanwhile back in France and Italy, or wonderfully laconic Tacit may still be under torture but the goodie cast list from the last outing are reconvening. Our very British officer Henry is now an item with French sometime-werewolf Sandrine. While Isabella, the honey trap nun (not a phrase I thought I'd ever write!) starts the story by witnessing a murder carried out by her fellow Catholic Inquisitors.

Yes the Inquisitors are definitely divided: there are those who root out evil and those who actively encourage it. The great thing is that our paranoia grows with that of our heroes as none of us can be sure of who's on which side since the darkness entices more of their fellow tonsured and collared companions. Similarly, as eschatological changes approach, foes become friends… perhaps.

The excitement and edge of the trilogy's debut is still there while the blood and guts levels have been turned up to eleven. War is never pretty and Tarn brings us the smells and sights of the battle fields with no holds barred and in sometimes stomach churning prose. It doesn't stop there though.

The baddies aren't above some decorative body rearrangement themselves. The torture scenes are graphic and one particular discovery shows how inventive they can be with human intestines. No, definitely not a book for the squeamish!

For those of us who can take it (or those of us who have learnt to read through finger-covered eyes), the twists, turns and churns all set up Book 3 nicely. The end times may be mapped out symbolically in Revelation but I have a feeling they'll be a tad more vivid in what comes up next – The Risen – because that's how Tarn rolls and there's a growing army of followers who aren't complaining.

(Thanks to the good people at Gerald Duckworth for providing us with a copy for review.)

Further Reading: Do please read The Damned (The Darkest Hand Trilogy) (Inquisitor Poldek Tacit 1) by Tarn Richardson if you haven't. It sets the trilogy and the fear factor up a treat. If you've read it and still like a bit of a scare, we just as heartily recommend My Best Friend's Exorcism by Grady Hendrix and/or Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt.

Buy The Fallen (The Darkest Hand) by Tarn Richardson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Fallen (The Darkest Hand) by Tarn Richardson at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy The Fallen (The Darkest Hand) by Tarn Richardson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Fallen (The Darkest Hand) by Tarn Richardson at Amazon.com.


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