I’ve had the honor and privilege of reading two of author JG Faherty’s previous works in The Ghosts of Coronado Bay and The Cemetery Club. I must confess I’ve every bit of a fan as I am of Stephen King, Dean Koontz or Clive Barker. Despite Journalstone’s mandate to focus upon relative unknown, independent authors and showcasing their talents much of their product is as polished as any commercial conglomerate available to mass markets.
The Burning Time will disappoint few maintaining the integrity of previous Faherty novels full of suspense, action and paranormal interlude.
A stranger, reverend Cyrus Christian arrives to the sleepy hollow of Hasting Mills to resume the position of town preacher. Odd circumstances begin to arise with a series of young women found in the local creek presumably committing suicide off of a nearby bridge. A couple of other drifters arrive on the scene simultaneously, Billy Ray Capshaw, the new maintenance man at the church and a mysterious John Root. Capshaw has a more sinister agenda, playing on stealing the church’s charity pot for his own gain. Root’s aloof detachment is unclear from the onset yet he soon settles in as a contractor at The Anderson residence, assisting young Danni and her adolescent brother in household repairs. The suicides are continuously on the rise as the town’s residents are slowly one by one turning on one another. Is the new reverend, a genuine man of the cloth or have darker devotions? Is the would be thief, Capshaw responsible for the town’s chaos or is John Root behind the carnage unveiled in Hasting Mills? Find out the blazing truth in The Burning Time.
Faherty’s tale is a classic, compelling and gripping tale of good versus evil. The subtleties and nuances laid out in the initial chapters will keep the readership guessing as to who is responsible for the evil that lurks in the shadows of the small village of Hasting Mills. Faherty’s consistency lays a solid foundation for building plot and character development, fixating his readers on unfolding what happens next. His expert blend of dialogue, action and minimal exposition tells the tale at a fevered rate and rarely takes a detour from its original blue print.
The characters are believable and their interactions with one another are reflective of the kind of protagonists we tend to look for and can readily relate to. The author’s demonstrated grasp of the occult, spells, black magic and religion continuously mystifies and suspends the readership’s believability forever enhancing the very real horror within. One of the carnal rules of creative fiction writing is of course to write about what you know. Faherty’s knowledge of the paranormal is spooky in its own right cementing his position in formidable, spell binding horror.
Hasting Mills and it’s residents make intriguing secondary characters to nurture the rising tension and terror as each begins to turn on one another. The tale is reminiscent of Stephen King’s Needful Things or Under The Dome in this regard, yet offers its own blend of originality and innovation that does not hint at any attempt of carbon copying or lifting.
The subtext of adolescent women suicides makes the story much more diabolical and the evil formidable, forever conjuring. Within the final act the plot was a touch on the predictable side. At the same time readers are carried on an eclectic journey only to be tossed at their destination haphazardly. I would have preferred to have seen some unexpected twists and turns at this junction. At least the conclusion did not offer the same kind of warm fuzzy Hollywood ending most will expect or anticipate.
Pages, chapters and interactions of The Burning Time flowed well, fluently offering a virtual ride of reel to reel suspense that will undoubtedly make a tremendous film adaptation. The antagonist of Rev. Christian embodies slick, iconic evil comparable to Damien of Omen, Pinhead of Hellraiser or Cain of Poltergeist. Fans of polished good versus evil tales should most definitely check out The Burning Time for an apocalyptic good time.
Book Review: The Burning Time – Author JG Faherty