An unlikely group of heroes battles for a city in Doney’s debut supernatural thriller.
The city of Alterson is at war with forces both seen and unseen. A brutal gang called the Rivals has flooded the streets with an endless supply of drugs, and the members murder anyone who gets in the way. With friends in high places, the Rivals have nothing to fear, and the city has almost no one willing to stand against the killers. In the midst of a downpour that threatens to inundate the town, Tommy Atkins awakens in an alley with no memory, bleeding from wounds that should be fatal. When they miraculously heal, he flees and searches for answers. Somehow, he’s been granted supernatural abilities; he realizes it’s his duty to take down the Rivals. Unfortunately, the gang is the least of Alterson’s worries. A “possession demon” named Nemon stalks Tommy and plans to use the city as a gateway for more demonic forces. Reminiscent of films such as Batman and The Crow, the novel follows a curious cast of characters—including a downtrodden cop and weary priest—whose lives intersect and lead toward an inevitable showdown of good vs. evil. Doney tries to blend reality and fantasy but is most successful when focusing on the former. Fiona, the drug-addicted girlfriend of gang-banger Shaun, is a dynamic character haunted by the memory of her abusive father and what she’s done to protect herself. Her storyline is the most believable and developed. As for the supernatural, the plot relies too heavily on characters reading endless books and articles about demons and whatnot than actually taking any action. In these sections, the novel seems to drag and wander off on tangents, such as the difference between real and fake vampires, with little impact on the story. In the end, the two distinct plotlines compete with one another; at just over 200 pages, the book doesn’t have enough time to fully blend and develop either one.
A promising attempt to blend crime drama and fantasy that struggles to come together.