In midst of an expedition in the Mayan jungle a team of explorers lead by Ethan Foster and Dr. Heathcliff Pascal search for Ah Puch and soon learn in the direct translation, Lost City or City of The Dead holds consequences that are far more than what they bargained for.
Anyone who has become familiar with my reviews will find it no surprise at just how much I’ve become an avid fan of JG Faherty. His stories continue to astound, compel and challenge the parameters of imagination of even the most seasoned of readers. The Cult of The Black Jaguar is no exception. Use of Mayan folklore and mysticism is fascinating and a topic that has not been bludgeoned to death to the point of saturation in today’s horror genres. The expedition in itself is a silhouette of a reminder to the classic Tarzan tales or Alan Quartermane I had become so fond of as a youth. Faherty manages to harness a pretense and dials it up a notch virtually creating a fresh, new genre in its own right.
The tension between lead protagonist Ethan Foster and Jennifer Pascal is infectious as it begins to manifest. It keeps the reader guessing. Will the passion ever truly flourish or will it remain unrequited for the balance of this engaging tale? This subtext feeds fuel to the fire making readers ravenous for more.
One of the many elements that have made me so fond of this author’s work is his uncanny ability to paint a vivid picture. The larger than life, almost Technicolor type descriptions pits the reading audience directly into the fray of action. One reference comes to mind, “elliptical pupils sat within almond shaped, amber orbs.” These passages are near poetic in nature and create a maximum impact without coming across as being over the top or over indulgent. I’m hard pressed to envision any readers that will not consume this story in its entirety and keep begging for more.
Faherty’s conception of characters are indication of a well-rounded author with plenty of experience. We get to know the faces of the story in subtle nuances that are penned with ease. Getting the reading audience to get behind the lead characters of course is a necessary evil in any story building process. This author pulls it off seemingly with ease as he knows his market and finds a common fabric of relation to exploit into our subconscious, inspiring us to perpetually root for their success. In the instance of Ethan, his reluctance to intervene at the pinnacle of conflict somehow makes him more human, more vulnerable. Many of us lie to ourselves in stating in the eye of adversity we’d instantly throw caution to the wind and become the instant hero. Faherty forces us to be honest with ourselves and examine the very real sides of human nature, breathing a sense of authenticity into a plot that may otherwise appear far-fetched at first glance.
As we’re privy to Ethan concealing an epic secret that may very well change the course of a dire situation it causes the reading audience to delve ravenously into the fray of action, anxiously awaiting to see what unfolds next.
For a relative brief read of forty seven pages the debate may very well ensue, is it a short story? Is it a novella? Label it what you will. The classification is of no consequence. The Cult of The Black Jaguar will prompt its readership to consume this riveting tale in one sitting any many will begin as swiftly as it’s complete. The only thing wrong with finishing a story by JG Faherty is waiting for the next.