Mon. Jan 25th, 2021

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Reed’s Literary Horror Review of ‘Blood of the Sun’ by Lee Murray and Dan Rabarts (2020)

7 min read
I was already sucked into the characters' drama in the first few pages, and I know nothing about them save their names, their jobs, and their general demeanor. It stuffs enough conflict and enough personality into such a short period of time, I was instantly wrapped up in their lives, but more importantly, I was wrapped up in the story.

Like a procedural cop drama with guts *rim shot*

I’m impressed by the way this writer duo created vivid scenes using very subtle descriptions. The best way to captivate your audience is to let the reader construct their own experience between what’s described and what’s not. Getting too bogged down in the details can be a slog. For readers like me, with severe ADHD, too much detail is sure to stymie the imagination and make the read boring. So, when a writer casually works the details in with the flow of the stories and characters, It makes for better immersion and a far more enjoyable read… for me anyway.

Another thing I’m taken by is how interesting and how vivid the personalities of the characters are. This was also done subtly as the characters carried the plot. Good character-driven stories also appeal to me as a reader, as getting caught up in their lives helps my reader’s trance. The more consumed I am with the characters and the story, the less likely I am to stop reading. As I often explain, the more I stop reading, the less likely I am to finish the book.

If I can’t finish a read, well… that’s it. Your book is too boring and I’m not going to keep reading. It’s like the literary version of my ’30 Minute Rule’ (from my movie reviews where I stop watching if nothing directly important to the plot happens during a 30 minute period). In this case, if I put the book down, and I don’t actively want to pick it back up… why should I keep reading? For someone who suffers from severe ADHD, that’s bloody torture, and I’m just not going to do it. Blood of the Sun gets my personal ADHD seal of approval.

I was already sucked into the characters’ drama in the first few pages, and I know nothing about them save their names, their jobs, and their general demeanor. It stuffs enough conflict and enough personality into such a short period of time, I was instantly wrapped up in their lives, but more importantly, I was wrapped up in the story. The story also manages to perspective hop without issue. That’s a pretty impressive feat. Head-hopping is a good way to lose the reader if not done right. But it’s also vastly important in character-driven stories. This moved organically between the two main characters allowing them to drive the plot.

And with good characters came good dialog. One of the greatest lines I’ve ever read popped up in this book in the first few chapters: “The man is about as sensitive as a prophylactic made from bicycle inner tube.” That’s fucking classic. I chuckled for a solid minute. As a writer, I’ve often struggled with writing memorable one-liners like that. It was absolutely bloody brilliant.

I also have to say, I was worried about doing this review as Blood of the Son is part three of a series I’ve never read. It’s often difficult to jump into a series without the context of the earlier books. However, all of the above merits of this book make it digestible as a stand-alone. There was never a moment when I felt I was missing something.

As an action thriller done in the style of a procedural cop drama, it also had the capacity to be nice and gory; not flinching away from any of the visceral details. The writers really let you swim in some sticky, graphic descriptions. It’s gritty to the point you can almost feel and smell it. What sets it apart from most of your typical action-packed cop drama is the added blood, gore, and supernatural edge. One thing that was particularly engrossing about the plot is how the supernatural is hinted at, but only in the background at first. Most of the foreground is the usual investigative and forensic details which give you a sense of what’s real. But you know something is just off in the shadows, waiting to unleash holey hell. Part of what dragged me along was knowing something was about to pounce and desperately wanting to know what that was. At times it even felt a little Lovecraftian, except not obnoxiously xenophobic. Actually, this leans pretty heavily on Maori traditions and occult. I always enjoy getting a unique cultural perspective on the supernatural. This came from a culture I’d not yet had the privilege to learn about.

My only complaint is that I really hate present tense storytelling. Narration in the present tense feels pretty ‘telly.’ It’s like someone leaning over your shoulder during a film and walking you through what you’re already watching. But as I said, the writers did a marvelous job of SHOWING the story with subtle details that were perfectly immersive. It’s enough where I could forgive the subtle sin of the present tense narrative. This, of course, is a personal preference. However, with that, I’d like to impress something upon my readers. As I’m so fickle, something as simple as the narrative could cause me to stop reading. Importantly, it did not. I was so caught up in the characters and story, even something that bothered me as consistently as the narrative was easily ignored.

These two writers do an excellent job of rooting the violent and bizarre into what would otherwise be a mirror of our own tangible world. The characters are interesting and organic, and the plot deeply immersive. No spoilers for this review, not much more you can ask for from a book, even as a stand-alone. But, importantly, this installment makes me want to read the other two.

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