Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Book review: Shadow Enclave, Steve P Vincent (2018)

This misshapen thriller is the product of a man with no respect either for human life or for his readers. The cruel logic that drives the narrative in the book is satisfied only by blood, and as a result people die like flies without any warning, and without any reason evident.

The characterisation is very thin, with the lead female, Erica Kearns, behaving in such unbelievable ways that she seems to be mentally retarded. One moment clinging helplessly to the rugged frame of Mitch Herron, the main character, the next bucking up and accepting the truth of his superior wisdom. Just in time to get into the car and drive. It’s got that sort of logic, this dreary book.

The action, as in the measured progress of events, is shatteringly devoid of grace or purpose. People and events flicker in and out of focus as invisible enemies appear for an instant one moment and then disappear the next, giving you barely enough time to get your bearings before the next murder, the next car crash, the next busload of passengers incinerated by assassins fleeing on motorbikes.

In this alien environment located entirely outside the law and outside the domain of art people kill and defend themselves without thinking or else they can expect to have a short lifespan. The author has no time or appetite for character development and therefore his plot judders along like an old clunker with a broken gearbox, shuddering to a halt one moment and spastically lurching forward the next. In this maelstrom of incessant violence Mitch seems to function on autopilot, like a robot controlled by an algorithm and cranked up to supersonic speed, and there is no time for poetry of any kind.

It’s a sick world of little feeling and impossible tasks, a sort of childhood fantasy-become-real where monsters lurk behind every door and under every floorboard. It has nothing to do with the world I live in, or with the world any of Vincent’s readers live in. It is a fantasyland as artificial as an overpriced Disney resort, yet the cover says the book is a sequel to a novel that attained best-seller status. People in the broader community are more desperate or less discerning that I ever imagined possible. This book sucks big time.

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