The Red Church by Scott Nicholson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I got this book as part of a Humble Bundle years ago. It was my first occult horror, unless you count Dean Koontz books, which – now that I think about it – seems to share at least some genre space with this book. Quick note for anyone new to my reviews – I use the Goodreads tooltips to inform how many stars I give a book. At the time I’m writing this review, 2 stars is “it was OK”.
I definitely give the author credit for creativity. The occult enemy in this book was an original – not a typical creature from heaven or hell. This kept the narrative fresh and kept me guessing. At first, I thought perhaps this was going to be more akin to a thriller in which nothing supernatural was going on. But like the Robert Rodriguez movie From Dusk Til Dawn, eventually it became clear that our main antagonist did have some kind of powers and wasn’t merely delusional or an amazingly powered con artist. But the mythology this book was proposing ((view spoiler)[that Archer McFall was the second son of God (hide spoiler)]) was so foreign a concept that I wasn’t sure throughout the entire book whether it was meant to be truth or a lie. The eventual reveal was a huge surprise, although there were hints all along.
I liked the various points of view throughout the novel, that kept it fresh and allowed the author to provide lots of points of view with different bits of information missing, especially the Ronnie’s perspective. Overall, it was well put together and really kept me on my toes. So why the lower rating? Mostly the ending left me wanting and left me a little nonplussed about what exactly had happened after all that buildup. The epilogue – the final part with the antagonist – brought it up to 2 stars.
Overall, this wasn’t for me. I’m not fully giving up on the genre, though. And you might like this book if occult horror is up your alley – don’t let it falling flat for me keep you from what might be a great book.
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