The Book of Paul by Richard Long – A Review

Book of Paul cover

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:

  1. Purchase your copy of The Book of Paul for just 99 cents
  2. Enter the Rafflecopter contest on Novel Publicity
  3. Visit today’s featured social media event

About The Book of Paul: A cross-genre thriller that combines the brooding horror of Silence of the Lambs with the biting humor of Pulp Fiction. Get it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

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.

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13 thoughts on “The Book of Paul by Richard Long – A Review

  1. paperkingdoms

    This sounds like it might be walking my line of “how far is too icky”… but we’ll see if it’ll get me to actually read something on the kindle app on my phone. (I s’pose I’m also slowly working my way through a set of Alice variations…)

    • It pushed up against that line for me, but where I thought it might cross over (one of the times Rose is in peril), the line held. It was close, though. 😉

      This set of Alice variations? That’s on my list.

  2. Great review, M. Fenn, and I promise to do my best to never ever misuse crescendo *quivers in fear.* Thanks for joining us on this tour, and please take a moment to cross-post your review to Amazon and GoodReads.

    Em 😀

    • I’m glad you liked the review, Em, even with my venting on one of my pet peeves. Crossposted to Amazon. Now to actually create an account at GoodReads. The review’s crossposted at LibraryThing, though. 😉

  3. Hi M. Fenn. Thanks for the great review. You pulled a couple of my favorite lines. Thanks so much for supporting the tour and taking the time to write such a thoughtful review. Crescendo. Who knew?

    • You’re welcome, Richard. Thanks for taking the time to read it. I’m glad you enjoyed it. 🙂

      • It’s interesting, many of the five star reviews from the tour focus on the mythology, including the tarot and Hermetic stuff, as being particularly exciting. Most of the 4 star reviews said those elements detracted from the excitement and slowed it down. So I guess the mythology is costing me some stars (is there a new sheriff in town?). But for me it’s an essential part of the story for a couple reasons. The mythology in this series is gigantic, starting with a creation myth and moving toward…something. The first volume really needed to stand on its own and tell enough to framework the series so the reader can navigate all the essential elements. The future volumes have even more characters and relationships to explore through various historical periods so I wanted to set the stage properly for them. And of course, I love this stuff!

        I knew the tarot material would be difficult for some people, particularly when I went card by card through the trumps to explain the creation myth, but I also knew that people like me who were into those kind of details would really appreciate them. As I wrote this, it just spewed out from somewhere, almost like I was taking dictation. I didn’t know what Paul was really up to either in the beginning, it revealed itself to me gradually. One of my favorite very short chapters in the book called Pseudonym. It “explains” what this process felt like for me. These lines totally came to me like a voice in my head that I wrote down word for word. I’ve never altered a word of it throughout all the edits.

        Pseudonym

        I am William’s soul. I am writing this Book from a place you can’t imagine. I found this story rendered whole, complete. It was there before I started.
        I dole it out in drips and drabs. Sometimes he listens. Sometimes not. It doesn’t matter. It will all come out eventually. Unraveling, thread by thread.
        I am the machine that makes his dreams. I make them fierce and thrilling. Sometimes I tell him things I wish I could take back again. I see the trouble they cause. I watch from my way, way far-off place. I see him try so hard to be good.
        I keep talking and he keeps writing. I can’t stop it. He can’t stop it.
        Even if I could…make it nicer…make it happy…make it safe…I still wouldn’t.
        Because I have to tell you…I really like it this way.

        The first draft of the book that earned me my first agent was almost 700 pages — of almost all action, with more crazy fun characters. She wanted me to cut it to the bone, so the draft that went out to publishers was 385 pages. When she didn’t sell it after six months of peddling I got impatient and a second agent came in — who wanted me to add ALL the mythology to the first volume. When he didn’t sell it after another six months I just said, screw it, I’ll do it myself. So I cut a lot of material out and put in what I considered important.

        My wife is in your camp. She couldn’t care less about arcana, the mysteries surrounding the formation of the world’s religions, etc. It was all blah, blah, blah stuff to her. Obviously I love it, study it. Get lost in it. Discover a wonder here and there. I’m actually convinced that the tarot sequence I discovered really is the true meaning of the story in the trumps — and echoes the heroic formula of all mythologies. So if you’re in the Dan Brown crowd, you get a lot of revelations as to what “happened” in early Christianity with Mary Magdalene. She’s not Jesus’s wife by the way, she’s (deleted spoiler here).

        For people who couldn’t care less, I have a suggestion: skip it! The characters and the action will still sweep you to the same place eventually — our looming apocalypse!

        Thanks again for all your support and the great review and inspiring me to write a reply so lengthy you’ll get bored with this too — but it will save the time of writing a blog post for BOP tomorrow! All the best!

        • Thanks for your thoughtful comment and glad to be an inspiration. 🙂 It is interesting what will excite some readers and what won’t, isn’t it? I’m very curious how my first published piece is going to be received by readers who don’t know me. It’s an exciting and slightly unnerving prospect. How does it feel to have something you put so much of yourself into out there, now that it finally is? And congrats on making that happen the way you wanted to.

          Although the mythology slowed your book down for me, it certainly didn’t make me stop, and I had fun making connections—Martin and Rose the most obvious. I also found your take on the tarot trumps to be pretty interesting and, indeed, unique. I haven’t heard of anyone else making those connections before.

          Dan Brown, meh. I liked DaVinci Code as a pageturner, but I think he’s a lazy writer, in general (although I still gave it 4 stars—he accomplished what he set out to do and I enjoyed it). I liked one of the books Brown was influenced by, though, even more: Holy Blood Holy Grail by Baigent, Leigh, and Lincoln. Have you read it? I’m very curious who you think Jesus was married to if not Mary M. I’ll guess I’ll have to read the rest of the series. 😉

          Kind of off-topic, but have you read Pullman’s The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ? It’s quite brilliant, I think, looking at the Christ myth from a very different perspective.

          • I give DVC a meh minus. It was definitely a page-turner but the royal bloodline connection was telegraphed so far ahead of the conclusion that you were already there way before the reveal and there was nothing else behind the curtain except Oz in a tattered robe and fuzzy pink bunny slippers. Plus, Silas as the big villain was about as scary as gazpacho served slightly on the warm side. Paul would eat Silas for a casual Sunday brunch and dispose of the remaining beady pink eyes with a toothpick. As to who Jesus was or was not married to, well I’m not gonna weigh in on that yet, but I don’t believe Mary M was his wife. She was his (deleted spoiler) as stated in The Book of Paul. And her (deleted spoiler) form the (deleted bloodline) for Rose’s family, which is why they’re at war with Clan Kelly! P.S. Send me an email MFenn and get a surprise!

            • Agreed on Brown being pretty damned fluffy. And yes, Paul would have beaten Silas easily. Now, a match of evil I’d love to see would be Paul vs.Randall Flagg. Paul might have his hands full there. 😉

              Well, you’ve definitely piqued my curiosity. Email on the way.

  4. Sounds interesting. I’ve been looking for something new to read, I’ll be sure to check it out!

  5. Pingback: Kindle Books 99 Cents – Pure Justice by Linda L. Barton | Rear View Mirror The Contemporary Romance Novel

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