Jason and Erika are enjoying a wonderful date at the carnival. Taking in the midway, rides and games they finally give in to a little romance and charter a swan ride into the tunnel of love. Their cozy rendezvous soon turns awry as the swan boat capsizes sending the youth couple into the grungy, murky water below. They awaken not only to discover they’re disoriented but in a completely different locale and time frame. Seeking refuge in a nearby castle, their host is most accommodating on the surface but something more sinister lurks beneath. Will the young couple be able to find their way home again or will they forever by trapped in The Castle By The Sea?
Throughout 2013 to current I’ve read my fair share of JG Faherty’s works. This highly talented and imaginative author has likely cemented his place in my forever growing must read list of favorite authors. I anticipate each of his releases with as much enthusiasm and vigor as the latest Stephen King, Dean Koontz or Robert McCammon. If you’re unfamiliar with the work of JG Faherty, I personally challenge to take a voyage into any of his novels and we’ll just see who cannot wait for more.
Castle By The Sea is no exception, soliciting excitement from page one. There are perhaps two ways I like to gauge if a novel is worthwhile to the general reading public. As a critic novels are often sent to me by request or otherwise as a complimentary, advance copy. I carefully consider, upon completion if I’d purchase the book as a regular consumer. For my money Faherty’s works with this title included can quite easily be considered your best bang for your buck and few readers will be disappointed. I also know myself well enough to realize when I’m on to something special. When something extraordinary comes my way I have great difficulty coming up with just the right review. I acquire this almost neurotic sense of unease thinking I’m incapable of doing the book justice and ultimately disappointing the author. I’ve been sitting on this review for longer than I’d care to admit and if you’re reading this Mr. Faherty, my apologies for the delay.
The setting of a carnival is an intriguing choice and holds just the right level of contrasting excitement around every corner. Just about everyone can find something fun about carnival. I’m sure on a mass marketing level, readers will flock to this bona fide adventure on this pretense alone.
A real sense of surrealism hits after Jason and Erika realize they’ve awakened far from home in an entirely different state. Upon conversing with another stranded couple, Charlie and Lilly, they too are just as far from home thinking they were still in Buffalo, New York. A chilling, eerie sense of suspended plausibility threatens their senses that is reminiscent of a classic Twilight Zone episode. The very real terror ensues after realizing the current year 1896 while one couple argues it’s 1985. The third couple proclaim everyone’s insanity stating the year is indisputably 2014. The very laws of rationality and reasoning are challenged and merely the beginning of what’s about to unfold.
Faherty’s characters are often complex, multilayered individuals. Yet their diverse qualities always seem to possess something we can all relate to. The subtext of a society being fixated on technological amenities is tragic. This is something we can all relate to in the here and now. The author explores the protagonists’ fixation on contemporary luxuries and what they do to cope without them in an era when these things have yet to be even thought of.
Vivid descriptions are forever present in your typical Faherty tale. A broad canvas of brutality is painted to facilitate the imagination. Descriptions of the head injuries after the love tunnel debacle will churn even the most cynical of reader’s unease. Allegories always resonate deep into the imagination. A description comes to mind of a bass thump in a teen’s car is compared to waves crashing against the shoreline’s rocky coast. The picture is all consuming beckoning each of the senses, never taking for granted the reading experience is far beyond what we merely see and feel.
The final pages leading up to the spell binding conclusion would translate brilliantly into an episode of The Outer Limits or the aforementioned Twilight Zone. Highly recommended for first time Faherty readers. Those familiar with his work will be far from disappointed and as equally ravenous as I for his forthcoming releases.