The life of a wildly successful horror author begins to imitate his art after the onset of a strange case of writer’s block with demonic origins.
Author Gregory Stillingsworth has an unbelievable career, having published 74 acclaimed novels in 15 years. But things change for him and his wife when an uncharacteristic bout of writer’s block threatens his 75th manuscript. The surface issue develops quickly—too quickly—into an all-consuming roadblock that threatens his life and marriage, and opens him up to be manipulated by an evil doll he bought on a recent vacation to India. At this point in Kuykendall’s (Conspirator’s Odyssey, 2008) thriller, things fall apart. The author and his undeveloped cast struggle to hang onto a runaway plot patched with increasingly wild pop-ups: ancient prophecies, serial killers, cursed bloodlines, divine chess games, devious fraternities, covert exorcisms and vile corporate overlords. Not that the synthesis is impossible to achieve, but paired with Kuykendall’s reliance on excessive exposition and meta devices, it’s a difficult balance that doesn’t sit right. Lengthy digressions and novel-within-a-novel interruptions scramble the story’s pacing and leave audiences—both inside and outside the book—shaking their heads in confusion. The disarray is unfortunate because the novel has some intriguing ideas; they’re just trampled by plot and prose problems, as well as some head-scratchers that are harder to believe than the existence of evil dolls and demons (i.e., a writer who pens 74 bestsellers in 15 years, a serial killer who kills 200-plus people). Kuykendall offers an intriguing effort, but the wild twists, hyperbole, gore and sex don’t leave the audience caring about characters it barely knows.
Hobbled by too much plot and too little character development.