3 out of 4 stars
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Imagine our world – a conflicting puzzle of clashing civilization. Populated by the rich and poor, people go about their lives with humorless routine, going through the motions of a relatively mundane life. That is our world. But like an onion, our world has many layers. Many of these layers hide in plain sight. The world of Raven’s Peak is one such world. A world where demons are not only real but they thrive by possessing human bodies to unleash the chaos they so desire.
I liked the book’s protagonists -- Abigail and Haatim -- because they complement each other. Abigail is tough as nails, quick to anger, and has a massive chip on her shoulder against demons. She’s the kind of person who shoots first, second, and third and never mind the questions. Haatim, on the other hand, is Abigail’s opposite. If you were to tell him that demons exist, he would quickly call the authorities and advise they come with a straitjacket. He’s drawn into Abigail’s world against his will, trying to find a purpose in a world where his skills are useless.
Reading Raven’s Peak is not unlike watching a buddy cop movie: Abigail is aggressive and pragmatic, but she’s clearly lost some of her compassion. Haatim is the flipside of that coin, compassionate even in the face of evil. They’re two halves of a balanced person.
I did not like the way the character Arthur (Abigail's mentor) was introduced. The book’s first chapter has Arthur indulging in self-flogging. He’s literally whipping the flesh off his bones. Quite an interesting hook for luring readers. His time in the book is too short; by the end of the chapter he’s gone and is never seen again. A book’s primary goal is to leave the reader wanting more, and author Lincoln Cole certainly achieves this with Arthur’s short introduction. We get to see the monster, but not enough of the man he was before all this grisly demon-hunting business. The readers can only hope he’ll have more of a role in the sequel.
I also dislike the uninteresting plot twist involving Haatim’s father. Abigail is a member of the Order, a secret organization dedicated to killing demons. She certainly has a stake in the book’s events. She’s pursuing the demon that captured Arthur at the book’s beginning; that’s her quest.
But Haatim does not belong in this world. He was drawn in by chance, a random sucker unprepared and unskilled for this new world of demons and sacrifices. Yes, he reminds Abigail is fighting demons because she doesn't want to deal with her personal problems, but when push comes to shove, it’s clear to everyone that he’s weighing Abigail down.
So, Cole relies on a common plot twist. It turns out that Haatim’s father is not only a member of Abigail’s Order but one of the highest authorities within the organization. With this newfound leverage, Haatim blackmails his father in delaying the napalm strike about to destroy the town. Then Haatim saves the day again by showing up in the nick of time and defeats the demon by singing religious prayers/chants to defeat the demon Belphegor. It’s a clear case of deus ex machina: the author writes himself into a no-win scenario and must rely on coincidence to get the happy ending.
I give Raven’s Peak 3 out of 4 stars. I give the story 3 stars because it's an engaging read, but its nothing new. I declined the fourth Star because the characters are cast from molds we’ve seen before (the tough guy, the wide-eyed innocent, etc). It relies a little more on luck and convenience to push the story forward. Fans of the action movie will find plenty of entertainment in Abigail’s kick-ass personality, while fans of buddy cop movies will find Haatim the perfect representation of a normal man struggling with a world he never knew existed.
Imagine our world. Now imagine there’s a world beneath it – a world that no one sees but is terrifyingly real. Demons walk side by side with humans, creatures of legend that exploit human bodies in an eternal quest for additional power. The only thing holding them back is the Order and its Hunters. It’s a story ripped from a comic book, but Abigail’s toughness and Haatim’s compassion give the story a much-needed shot in the arm. Don’t believe me? Read it yourself and be your own judge.
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