From author McLeod (The King of Dreams, 2014), an epic fantasy novel spanning Earth and mythical lands.
It is the year 2001, and two boys, Billy and Eric, embark on an ill-fated hunting trip in an area known as Digger’s Row. What they find in the woods—“something huge and impossible”—is so horrific that it eventually leads one of them to suicide, “hanging from an extension cord tied to a rafter in the attic of his parents’ house.” Not fully understanding what has happened, the reader is whisked away to the city of Orr in the land of Vereld. The “wizard-cum-healer” Rather tends to an ill, seemingly young man who scratches out foreign words on a wall. After some investigation, Rather realizes the young man is predicting the future. Before Rather can make much use of this information, however, he is taken into custody by a murderous figure in a black robe, causing Rather to experience “an icicle of fear.” In the pages that follow, many forms of fantasy combine to make a tale of the supernatural, the conniving and the combative. From grotesque airborne creatures “chomping on their hosts’ faces, tearing off chunks of flesh by expanding and retracting their teeth-rings” to a peaceful demon who “abhorred any form of violence,” the book caters to many fantastical tastes. Making sense of it all isn’t for the meek. As the narrative returns to Earth in later chapters—including mentions of the World War II assault on Stalingrad and the CIA—and introduces yet more characters, readers need to shift gears when they might still be trying to keep track of what just happened. An appendix of cast members provides some guidance, though readers approaching the book with anything less than total dedication could end up lost.
A novel combination of worlds and characters in an ambitious, cutting story that’s occasionally overcomplicated.