JournalStone continues to exercise its creativity and innovation, thinking outside the box with its Double Down series. Although far from a new concept, the two books in one method has fallen from fashionable trends in recent years. Now horror enthusiasts get double the chills, double the thrills and double the terror in one. Designed as two ‘front covers’ rather than a front and a back; one inverts upside down to segue into the beginning of the other. It’s most definitely an esthetically pleasing novelty that is guaranteed to be a conversational piece among fans and critics for years to come. Another common aspect is the theme of each of the tales within. Murder is the bloody topic at hand as each novella takes place in nineteenth century Europe.
Only The Thunder Knows By Gord Rollo
William Burke and William Hare are the considered the bottom of the barrel in terms of social hierarchy. With their constant boozing, whoring and swindling it’s a marvel how the two had made it as far as they had. A mysterious stranger by the name of Ambrosius Black enters the scene as a guest at the humble Inn Hare and his wife Maggie oversee. In private Black commissions the services of the two Williams to dig up as many corpses as possible and deliver them to him without question. Discretion is the key. Gluttons for a shilling or pound as much as their other habits of ill repute the two anxiously agree, digging up one cadaver after another. Soon they realize there is a more profitable endeavor to undertake, delivering the bodies to yet another source. Will the two grave robbers make off like bandits thinking they’d outsmarted their ominous employer or is there something more ethereal at hand with Ambrosius Black? Only The Thunder Knows
Author Gord Rollo’s journey into late Georgian and Victorian eras is tremendously accurate. The references to fashion, culture, dialect, sociological classes, mannerisms and even moral values are indicative of extensive research and applied knowledge of the chosen setting. We never second guess the authenticity of the tale as it lures us deeper and deeper through the layers of psychological mayhem.
The use of characters Burke and Hare, two actual, notorious body snatchers and convicted murderers breathes a chilling voice of suspended reality unto the readers. An after note composed by the author encourages readers to research the story of the two Williams as its guaranteed to fascinate, a tale most certainly stranger than fiction.
I particularly admire Rollo’s style and prose in conveying pertinent details in his story without coming across as pretentious or talking down to his audience. A lot of poetic, literary, flowery language is ordinarily associated with this time frame. The temptation to indulge in near Shakespearean narrative must have been near overwhelming. Yet this author appeals to a larger audience, seeing the forest for the trees. The end result is engaging while inviting a new generation to enjoy historical occurrences with a bone chilling subtext.
The character contrast is intriguing as well. Secondary protagonists such as Maggie, Hare’s ill-fated estranged wife as well as antagonists such as Magenta Da Vine actually enhance the lead characters validity rather than clout or complicate their presence. We as the reader ultimately buy into their conflict and tear through the pages, anxiously waiting who will prevail.
Plot escalation is crafted with nuance and finesse offering subtle clues surrounding each of the characters’ fate. Their actions and reactions leaves the reader in constant state of wonder until the very final act. After reading this sample of Gord Rollo’s efforts I’d be hard pressed to find any readers that won’t diligently search for additional works.
The late 1880’s sees Great Britain thriving after the industrial revolution. Many changes have transpired. A shift in sociological stature sees women practicing medicine while achieving leaps and bounds in equal rights. Around the same time frame a sequence of grisly murders unfolds that remains unsolved to this day. Baffled authorities unable to apprehend an assailant bill the killer as Jack The Ripper. A total of seven women, all prostitutes are found brutally slain. As Eliza Covington, a surgical prodigy attains experience of the anatomy by secretively performing operations on the ladies of the evening an insightful look is offered to the unsolved mystery that is guaranteed to shock and compel of equal epic proportion.
Author Rena Mason’s rendition of a classic unsolved mystery will inspire countless conversations in literary and conspiracy theorist circles alike for years to come. Her applied knowledge of the medical profession, surgeries and the anatomy never ceases to amaze. By reinforcing the vulnerable in circumstances and characters the realism of terror is emphasized unto the readers making our fears of the unknown come alive before us.
The plot development is the blueprint of an experienced author leading the readers in one direction on our journey and throwing the occasional fork in the road when we least expect it. Her voice is infectious, beckoning new readers and seasoned alike descending deeper and deeper into the centre of turmoil.
I’ll reflect on a brief note as to not embark upon any plot spoilers. I will state this, the final act will cause readers to sit up late at night pondering what could have or may have been as we we’re tempted to read and read again Mason’s work hell bent for blood and insatiable for more.
I commend JournalStone’s innovation and ingenuity for a bold, exciting concept in formatting, pitting two of contemporary horror’s most talented authors on the rise.
Book Review: Only the Thunder Knows / East End Girls – Authors Gord Rollo | Rena Mason