Friday, January 4, 2013
Reaper's Walk, A Review
The blurb tells us about the dark witch Umaa and her pact with the devil to exact revenge against the white men who have enslaved her kin. It tells us how Harper's Town burned to the ground with everyone inside and how she refused to pay the Devil with her soul, instead offering that of her ten-times descendant. In modern era, Lita Harper is that descendant. Alerted by her grandmother of her dire situation, Lita will have to learn every secret held by the long line of witches in her family. A secret world of which she knew nothing a few weeks ago, now holds the only thing the Devil might be willing to trade for her soul. The clock is ticking for Lita and she must hurry before the same hooded figure with a scythe that claimed every soul in Harper's Town comes to collect hers.
The first half of the story is exactly what the blurb promised and its done exquisitely. The narrative is compelling, the characters relatable, and the atmosphere claustrophobic. Particularly outstanding is the section where the spirit of Umaa relives what happened to Harper's Town. Then a slew of new characters are introduced and the focus digresses. Slowly but surely the center of the action moves from the piece of land that used to be Harper's Town and its curse, to a set of powerful objects that will put the paranormal world upside-down.
The new characters are intriguing and interesting but the atmospheric ghost story feeling of the first half is traded for a fast paced action thriller by the time the climax has come. This is a case where what appeared to be a plot device ends up becoming the real plot, thus blindsiding the reader.
Now, some might feel betrayed by the author, fooled into believing it is a ghostly story only to be delivered a different one. Others, more relaxed, might simply enjoy the ride and take the change as the ultimate twist ending. Giving the continuum of the story, the consistency of the characters, and the fact that Reaper's Walk never stops entertaining, I feel inclined to call it the latter.
In any case, Reaper's Walk: Hellstone makes a great first installment for a series and I'll be waiting for what Franklin has hidden under his sleeve for Bloodstone, the promised second installment. If I were to point to the--non fatal--faults, I'd say the resolution to the original plot becomes almost a nuance. A necessary step in order to move down to the new main plot. That is not to say the conclusion of the story is not satisfactory. You see, when you construct two great stories, the blending of them might outdo each one individually.
For more about Don Franklin or Reaper's Walk, click on the link.