Abomination

Posted: September 30, 2015 in Books, Dark Age, Fantasy & Sci-Fi

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ENGLAND, 888 A.D.

As King Alfred the Great struggles to defend his realm from hordes of Viking invaders, the Archbishop of Canterbury stumbles upon an ancient secret — dark magic that could turn the tide of the war in England’s favor. But when exposure to the magic corrupts the Archbishop, Alfred commands his greatest Knight, Sir Wulfric, to hunt the mad priest down. For the battle-weary Wulfric it is one final campaign, and one that will bring with it consequences far more terrible than he could ever imagine…

Abomination is an exceptionally well-paced, action filled “monster movie” of a historical fiction novel.  From the outset the pacing and the characters are superb.  The prelude itself feels like a novella in its own right, rather than a feeble bit of plot establishment – and this really pays off, as the story suddenly heads in a totally different direction from what you’re expecting.  I was expecting it to centre around Wulfric travelling the land, dispatching the evil monsters of the Archbishop’s creation…but what I actually got was something very different indeed.

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Wulfric – the central character – is especially sympathetic, and it’s not hard to feel for him through out all of his struggles. He has victories and failures, and suffers many moral quandries along the way – resulting in a very interesting and somewhat bizarre permutation of the “Heroes Journey” trope.  Indra, another Abomination hunter, is a character that that it’s also impossible not to like.  She’s the plucky young heroine, and she kicks as much arse as you’d expect.

Abomination is great at riding the monster movie, horror and fantasy tropes without every slipping into cliche.  You get the comfort of being on familiar territory, but at the same time, you don’t ever groan at the trappings of the genre.  It’s a really great compromise that just makes the whole thing very enjoyable to read.

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The monsters – the titular “abominations” – are superb, and Whitta’s descriptive writing makes them come alive like Stan Winston creatures in your mind – certainly reminiscent of his work on John Carpenter’s The Thing.  The teeth, the cartilage, the stabbing and slashing…all great stuff.  The blood and gore is strong, but again, he’s very careful not to stray into splatterpunk cliche.

All in all, Abomination is highly enjoyable.  It pays off in a good, dramatic ending, and the potential for more to follow – but at the same time conclusive.  A really fun exciting read.

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