Thursday, March 01, 2012

Book Review: The Red Church by Scott Nicholson

by Scott Nicholson
Many of the families living in this small town in the southern Appalachia Mountains have lived here for centuries.  They are insular and suspicious of both outsiders and each other and secrets fester in hearts and soil.  Which might have something to do with a violent act of betrayal by several families against one of their own.  With each generation weaned on the stories  they carry a burden of guilt priming them for the sermons of a preacher with a message of salvation through the shedding of blood.  "Sacrifice is the currency of God." he says.

Two intrepid locals, 13 year old Ronnie Day and Sheriff Frank Littlefield each have reasons for wanting to avoid the red church by the river.  But Ronnie must walk past it on his way to and from school each day and Littlefield must drive past it daily in the course of his duties.

Ronnie senses the ominous presence of the Bell Tower Monster, a local legend said to have wings and claws and livers for eyes.  It is bad enough having to walk past it twice a day but now his mother wants him to attend midnight mass with her.

Sheriff Littlefield's memory of the worst day of his life is revived each time he lays eyes on the church--the day his little brother died in a fall off the roof while playing a prank on Frank's high school friends.  A prank Frank had instigated.  A prank that drew its effectiveness from the legend of the thing said to haunt the bell tower.  The thing with wings and claws and livers for eyes.  Frank works hard theses days to not remember the dark shadow he saw rise up behind his brother in the bell tower just before he fell.

Ronnie and his little brother find the first body in the church yard after his brother Tim is attracted by the glint of sun flashing off something in the cemetery as they walk past on their way home from school and darts in to check it out forcing Ronnie to come after him.  More bodies follow.  Each one a descendant of one of the families who had perpetrated the ancient betrayal.  Each one gruesomely mutilated.  Each one missing a different major organ.

Scott Nicholson tells a soul shivering story that won't let go.  Not even after you turn the last page.  And he does so with a prose that sings like poetry. I will be reading more Nicholson.  I'm so glad I participated in his recent promo, The Epic Kindle Giveaway, during which I was able to download more than a dozen of his ebooks.

Find out more about Scot Nicholson's stories or his previous website The Haunted Computer

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