Thursday, August 6, 2015

Dark to Mortal Eyes by Eric Wilson

Beata: If you want to read a very Christian supernatural thriller (maybe even a little bit preachy) this book is just what you need! It's very suspenseful, interesting read. I've heard Jerusalem's Undead Trilogy by Eric Wilson is incredible!On the Oregon coast at Heceta Head lighthouse at the end of World War II, a strange canister carrying mysteriously "scientifically" created contents arrives with an equally mysterious partner . . . a beautiful woman seeking solace from Hitler's Germany. The canister, and a war captain, disappear over the side of the cliffs to seemingly fall to the ocean floors, while the woman watches from the lighthouse . . . but then, almost sixty years later, Josee Walker, on a mission to find and meet her birth mother, comes across it near Corvallis, Oregon. While the contents inside wound her boyfriend, her birth mother Kara Addison goes missing, and Kara's chess-playing husband Marsh is considered the culprit. But Marsh doesn't realize he's involved himself in a brutal chess game where the board is reality, and Josee and Kara are merely its pawns. . . .

I decided to crack open this book because last year I read Wilson's novelization of the 2012 film October Baby. I had enjoyed it, but to be honest, I wasn't that impressed. Truth be told, I probably should have given him the benefit of the doubt, especially considering screen-to-page adaptions are almost never done well. Kind of like their book-to-movie counterparts, you know?

So . . . apparently, I was prepared to hate this book. I certainly wasn't very excited about reading it. I would much rather be reading, oh, you know, Collective Retribution by D.S. Edwards or something. (Actually you probably don't know, given that it's not a very popular book, I don't think.) And you know what? For the first fifty or seventy or maybe a hundred pages, I wasn't a fan. Not even a "sort of" fan. All of the characters seemed so distant and the fact that it was written way back in '03 didn't help at all. I'd had qualms about its being eleven years old, even though I didn't know exactly what would offend me by being that age. (It ended up being the fashionable "expletive" of the time: "stinkin'". Being only seven myself in 2003, I don't remember if I used the word "stinking" as a description too often, but I do know that its usage irritates me now -- especially in written word form. Maybe this is me being nitpicky, though.)

Returning to the characters . . . Josee and her boyfriend Scooter -- I never was able to really form a bond with them. They were just unlikable, unrelatable, and though Wilson does give some backstory into Josee's life, it wasn't enough for me. Maybe, and I admit to being very unloving when I say this, it was because her character was the wandering homeless type. She was into smoking, Wilson described her clothes as being baggy . . . IDK, she wasn't very feminine or ladylike. I guess the whole outdoorsy thing just doesn't get me anymore. I used to love camping and going outside and getting dirty and everything, but I think I turned into a fashion snob

Marsh, Josee's dad -- he actually ended up being one of my favorites. I kind of hated him at first because he was so horrible; I mean, any kind of idiot should know that buying expensive gifts for his wife but treating her like trash is going to make her feel like trash. ? After Kara went missing, he recognized his priority issues and I liked him better for it.

I have to be honest and say this is one of the most original plots I've come across in a long time. Few people consider melding the spiritual world with the physical, and while the latter was accomplished in an amateur sort of way, that can be forgiven since this is Wilson's debut novel -- and the book is just too "good," technically speaking, to make a big deal out of it. There is some mystery, but it's not like your typical murder mystery -- it's more like a guessing game of "Who's who?" I loved the way the events from 1945 were connected to those of 2003 -- the chapters and sections focusing on connections had to be the best in the book. Intricate plot details always fascinate me. 

Regarding technicalities: Wilson shifts POVs continuously yet fairly consistently. There are a couple people who get one or two shots at their own point of view and then are either discarded as characters or never treated as "important" again; then there are the main characters -- Marsh, Josee, Sergeant Turney, Kara, Steele Knight -- whom we hear from on a regular basis. Wilson did an excellent job of maintaining reader interest by frequently dropping a cliffhanger with one character and moving on to another character's story before returning to answer the cliffhanger question. 

As far as suspense goes -- in the ending chapters, when the writing should be at its finest, Wilson flounders a little. His descriptions of the end border on cheesy and ridiculous, especially in Sergeant Turney's POV (another person I wasn't ever able to bond with -- he was just weird, besides being a highly unusual hero).

The end of the Marsh and Kara story satisfied me. Their problems were one of the more interesting points of the book.

Altogether I have to say this was probably a book worth my time, though I doubt I'd ever bother to read it again. For that reason, it gets . . .

3 stars

Note: This book should be classified as "adult" for age category. While there is nothing graphically described, it is not written as a YA novel and there are some possibly disturbing images/plot lines as well as a scene where a lawyer tries to convince her client to sleep with him. It is written by a Christian author and the witness to readers is almost excellent as far as most novels are concerned.

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