A young man who inherits a popular horror store from a famous grandfather, he becomes the target for an alternative group. A novel where Magick (with all the occult overtones of that) and the real world collide.
Jasper Hobbs: A self-professed horror geek, he has let the one important relationship in his life slip through his fingers, and tries to compensate through work. He was shy as a child, and still not overly confident in a crowd of new people.
Tabatha: The super-talented artistic/creative girlfriend, she wants more from her career than what Jasper can give her. She can literally weave magic into her costumes.
Sam: Jasper’s best friend, but truths learned in the book threatens their friendship.
The book opens dramatically, with a scene of a huge fire in the shop, staff running to save themselves and each other. We see it is the culmination of something, but have as yet no idea what, or why.
Jasper normally holds court in his store, the one place where he feels really at home. He has an eclectic mix of friends and employees there, who are all really into the horror genre.
Jasper inherited the shop from his now-deceased grandfather, who was famous in the horror film industry, having set up and run a specialised studio (Mental Studios), releasing what are now cult films.
The demise of Mental Studios was caused by a fire, in which people lost their lives, but the true events behind the tragedy are only slowly revealed through the course of the novel, and leaves Jasper with a completely different picture of his childhood, where he and his mother had lived with the grandfather. Following the fire, the grandfather left the mother and child, to head to Hollywood to set up his horror store. The reasons that were given to Jasper are revealed to be white lies, told to protect him. The real stories are revealed through a series of time-shunts, taking Jasper from a young child, through to his freshman and college days, to the current time.
Jasper sells both authentic Mental Studios memorabilia, as well as hand-crafted and curated items in the store. (It is instantly recognisable, as a typical speciality store run by real enthusiasts). At a horror convention, Tabatha visits a stand of the Children of Olen, named after one of Mental Pictures more famous films.
This is the beginning of Jasper’s problems. We sense there is already a tension between him and Tabatha, which plays itself out until their inevitable split. Jasper then tries to find comfort in his work, and his friends rally round to help him.
Promotional and recreational events run by, or assisted by, Jasper and his team seem to be targeted by vampires, and horrible assaults begin to happen, with serious injuries. With no known enemies, Jasper needs to dig into his past to find the truth. His frayed relationship with his mother is also tested, and he learns about a side of his upbringing, and his adored grandfather, that had always been hidden from him.
A sealed box, given to him by his mother, reveals an old, forgotten and unused film, and the pieces begin to fall into place.
All fingers point to the Children of Olen being behind the attacks, and the novel moves into the world of magick, charged items and super-natural events. Jasper feels betrayed by some of those closest to him, and struggles as much with this as he does with the attacks against him, his friends, and his store, which leads to the highly-charged ending.
What I Liked:
- The main character was well drawn. We saw how the boy he was became the man, and how his childhood environment still has a strong hold on him.
- It was a very easy read, with the storyline reeling you in, and keeping you turning the pages.
What I Didn’t Like:
- A certain suspension of belief is needed for the ending, which was not quite what I expected. Maybe setting up for a sequel…?
- The time jumps can be a bit off-putting.
- The supporting cast were a little flat as characters in their own right. Came off a little “Friends-y”.
It is a great fusion of science-fiction and the super-natural, with a well-written and believable protagonist. I don’t usually read the supernatural horror/mystery genre, but this novel proved a great read, with excellent pacing of the story throughout.
It is well worth a read if you like this genre, and also as an introduction if you haven’t tried it. It would be perfect as a holiday read. A YA audience would, I think, lap this up.
Thanks to the author who sent me a pdf in return for an honest and objective review.