3 out of 4 stars
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Raven's Peak by Lincoln Cole is the first book in the World on Fire series. This horror novel has one of the best prologues to a book that I've ever read. It opens with a former Reverend, Arthur, who has voluntarily committed himself to a special jail that is able to hold supernatural entities. I was instantly thrown into Arthur's inner turmoil about his loss of faith and his moral inability to fight against evil any longer. The repercussions of his many battles against evil has had unforeseen consequences that he will never be able to forgive himself for. It seems like an odd thing to say, but Arthur's internal struggle was an absolute pleasure to read. It was written so beautifully that I could actually feel the weight of his guilt on my own shoulders while I was reading. Arthur's former colleague comes to ask him for help one last time, knowing that he won't be able to refuse a request that involves saving a member of his own family.
The book then cuts to Haatim, a man in his mid-twenties who is left questioning his faith in God after his sister has recently died of cancer. He becomes determined to get his mind off his depression and takes an unusual job from a stranger he meets in the library. He unwittingly finds himself mixed up with a powerful demon that he is no match for. Abigail is a demon hunter who rescues Haatim and soon realizes that he has ties to the Council of Chaldea, an organization with the sole purpose of protecting the world from supernatural entities. Haatim is ignorant of his relationship to the Council, but follows Abigail along in the hopes that she will continue to keep him safe and he will learn more about the sudden turn that his life has taken.
Abigail is summoned to check out some strange activity in the town of Raven's Peak. Townspeople have been acting strange and the Council believes it could be connected to supernatural activity. When she and Haatim finally get there, they are confronted with one of the most powerful demons Abigail has ever faced. Abigail realizes she has a deeper tie to Raven's Peak, but has no memory of what it might be. Trying to figure out her connection to the town, keeping Haatim safe, and battling a demon all at the same time has Abigail in way over her head. Haatim is forced to begin figuring out what his role is in this supernatural world.
Raven's Peak was a very enjoyable book to get sucked into for a few days. The beginning gripped me right off the bat and the rest of the book continued it's hold on me until the very end. I love the completely platonic relationship between Haatim and Abigail. I finished the book and found myself a little surprised that nothing romantic ever developed between them. I've become so accustomed to authors trying to force this element in their books that when it didn't happen I was left a little stumped. It shouldn't be such a surprise when a male and female character can be strictly friends in a book, as it happens quite often in real life. I'm very glad the author decided to keep their mentor/student relationship throughout the book, as I think it suited their personalities much better than a romantic relationship would have.
"The only true weapon he'd had in his battles against evil had been his faith. Something he'd lost long ago." The obvious themes of this book are good versus evil and right and wrong. These sound like basic, old hat themes for a book and it's nothing too surprising. However, Cole goes a bit deeper and the characters struggle a lot with having to do the morally wrong thing while in the midst of taking down a greater evil. You can see how these questions have tortured the former Reverend in particular, to the point that he isolated himself from the rest of the world.
This book wasn't without problems. Editing errors such as missing periods and misplaced words throughout the book take away from the enjoyment of reading. I might have been able to overlook a couple of these errors, but they occur steadily throughout the entire book. Another small gripe I have is Haatim's character. I found him pretty unlikable due to how immature and extremely sheltered he comes off at times. One example of this is when he asks Abigail which way to hold a gun. He is supposed to be a man in his mid-twenties who has lived away from home before, yet he doesn't even know which is the dangerous end of a gun? The way he reacts to certain situations would make you think he has lived on a private compound his entire life and has never been exposed to the outside world. His naiveté was just a little too unbelievable.
I give this book 3 out of 4 stars. As a whole, the book was very enjoyable and I would love to read the next book in the series to see where the author takes it. Though I classify this book as a horror novel, I don't think it deals with anything too extreme and I think many readers of horror and thrillers would enjoy this book. It does have a few particularly gory scenes, so if that's not your thing then this probably isn't the book for you. The lack of editing throughout the book is the only thing keeping it from a 4 star rating.
The above review of the manuscript prior to full editing. The published edition of the book has been fully edited.
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