Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Book Review: Through a Glass, Darkly by Bill Hussey

A new master of horror reveals himself with Through A Glass, Darkly as author Bill Hussey weaves a complex, darkly atmospheric story to give you chills on even the hottest summer day.

Detective Jack Trent has been having nightmares. Nightmares where a little boy he knows is horribly tortured and killed by some unspeakable evil. Trent knows that these visions aren’t only dreams, but premonitions of what is to come. When he suffered a traumatizing experience as a child, he received these special “gifts” of premonition, along with being able to see deep into people’s pasts and futures through touch. Trent has spent his entire life trying to keep his “gifts” under lock and key, but circumstances have arisen where he must use his gifts to protect those dear to him.

There have been mysterious kidnappings and brutal slayings of children, crimes that lead Jack Trent and his partner Dawn Howard to Crow Haven, an eerie and superstitious backwoods town. Crow Haven, like Jack Trent, has a deeply troubling past and many sins it is still paying for. A darkness that has plagued the town for centuries has returned…in the form of a creature that calls itself Dr. Mendicant. The Doctor intends to perform an ancient ritual to prolong his evil…the same terrifying ritual that Trent has seen in his dreams…

Can Jack Trent stop the Doctor and save the boy from his nightmares before it is too late? Can the centuries old evil that resides in Crow Haven be vanquished once and for all?

With Through A Glass, Darkly, Bill Hussey has created an intensely engaging and deeply disturbing book. It is so well-written that it’s hard to believe this is Hussey’s first novel. The words just seem to roll off the page pulling you deeper and deeper into the story, while the imagery is wickedly painted and the characters are all highly developed.

The approach Hussey takes is very “old school” horror, reminiscent of old black and white movies that featured creeping fog, stark trees, ancient rituals and truly evil villains. Yet, though the novel is steeped in classic horror, it has a very modern feel. The characters are varied and each of them is believable. Hussey does a great job at creating the tormented Trent and the back story of his “special powers” is indeed intriguing and adds that little something extra to an already solid story. The book is also peppered with other substantial characters, including Trent’s partner Dawn Howard, her endangered child Jamie, the wise Father Brody, suspected murderer Simon Malahyde, and the queer, withdrawn townsfolk of Crow’s Haven. Each of the characters is multi-layered, no matter how small their role in the book. The evil Doctor Mendicant is also one of the most frightening horror villains I’ve read of late…his raggedy “Crowman” appearances as well as his later transformations are downright unsettling!

The dark visuals are another place where the novel excels. Hussey’s descriptions of Crow Haven, as well as the surrounding Redgrave Forest, are bone-chilling. There is also shocking, cringe-worthy gore that soaks many passages in blood and bone. Probably the most shocking aspect of the gore is that young children bear the brunt of it. With bones snapping, brains being bashed in, baby fat being drained and other horrors perpetrated by the villain(s), it’s hard to stomach that most of it happens to young children, but it’s the horrifying torture and murders that are part of what make the novel so memorable!

Through A Glass, Darkly is a richly dark novel that proves that author Bill Hussey is one of the great new voices in horror fiction. Remember his name because I’m sure you’ll be hearing it a lot after this breakout book.

Available on Amazon!

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