You tell your children not to be afraid. You tell them everything will be all right. You tell them Mommy and Daddy will always be there. You tell them lies.
I received an ebook copy of Richard Long’s self-published début novel, The Book of Paul, in exchange for my honest review as part of this week’s Novel Publicity whirlwind blog tour (Info on prizes you can win are below, after the review.).
The Book of Paul is a supernatural thriller, the first in a planned series of seven, that takes its readers down a dark, twisting path involving the title character’s lust for immortality and apocalypse. He also likes pain, a lot. We learn about Paul by initially meeting his victims: Martin (a tortured man–literally and figuratively), Rose (a tattoo and piercing artist, vivacious and brave), and William (our narrator who likes to collect disgusting things and who happens to like my favorite kind of wine, zinfandel; not sure how I feel about that). They’re all interesting characters, none of whom really know who or what Paul is for one reason of another: Martin, because of his faulty memory; William, because he’s somewhat new to the game; and Rose, who doesn’t even know Paul exists until it’s too late.
I found The Book of Paul to be an exciting read. Long has created several good characters here, two of whom (Martin and Rose) I found myself caring for quite a bit. He’s also created a fine, unpredictable villain in Paul. Anytime he was “onscreen,” I was nervous, wondering what the hell he was going to do next. That said, this book is not for the squeamish. People are injured in really unpleasant ways. Paul likes knives and nails (pretty much anything pointy), so if those bother you, you might want to take a pass on this. Also, you might learn more about extreme body modification than you might have wanted to.
The writing for the most part is smooth and fun to read. Long has a way with dialogue that works well, and some of his phrasing is quite lovely. Two of my favorite lines of dialogue come from Paul himself.
What is this thing we call ‘food’? We eat life, William. We eat life!
I don’t make claims. I make widows and orphans.
I’m rather fond of “immortal parasitic messiah,” too. A simile might misfire in Long’s prose (“Meat balloon” should never be used as a euphemism for penis unless you want to end up over on the Weeping Cock community at LJ, even if you’re trying to emulate Pulp Fiction. Just saying), but rarely.
The fight scenes are also nicely done. Never confusing, always interesting.
The only times I found myself losing interest were when characters were pontificating on Hermeticism and the stories that lie behind the trump cards of the tarot deck, thus giving readers the back story for all the horror we’ve been witnessing as well as what’s to come. I know the author finds this part important to his tale–and it is–but these sections felt too info-dumpy to me and somewhat dull. That could also be because, as a former tarot reader myself, I’ve never been all that drawn to the Hermetic aspects of the cards. Other readers might be thrilled to learn about all this, but it didn’t quite work for me, mainly because I was anxious to know what was happening with Martin and Rose. The only way to them is through. And I blame Richard Long for creating these characters who were more interesting than his myth, at least to me.
One nitpicky thing:
I stared blankly at her until her fear mounted to such a crescendo ….
I might be fighting the hopeless “literally” battle here, but when writers misuse the word “crescendo,” it drives me a little batty. Classically trained pianist here, and as I’ve said previously, words mean things. Crescendo is a process; it’s how you get to the final chord of a phrase or an entire piece of music. The crescendo is the build up (the mounting, in this case), not the final chord itself. Sorry to go all music theory teacher here, but if I had a dime for every time I saw the misuse of “crescendo,” I’d be a wealthy person now. Nobody’s paying up. 😉
Those criticisms aside, however, I found The Book of Paul a scary and exciting read. Especially impressive for a début novel. If you enjoy supernatural thrillers, this one is definitely worth a try.
As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the Book of Paul eBook edition is just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes. The prizes include a Kindle Fire, $300 in Amazon gift cards, 5 autographed copies of the book, and a look into your future through a free tarot reading performed by the author.
All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment–easy to enter; easy to win!
To win the prizes:
- Purchase your copy of The Book of Paul for just 99 cents
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About the author:
Richard Long is the author of The Book of Paul and the forthcoming young-adult fantasy series The Dream Palace. He lives in Manhattan with his wonderful wife, two amazing children and wicked black cat, Merlin. Visit Richard on his website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.