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on April 18, 2013 :
This is a VERY well written mystery/ thriller/supernatural/horror story which also dips into metaphysics. I know that’s a mouthful, but that’s how I see it. Not to mention the very interesting historical component involving the Crusades. This story has a LOT of twists, and I’m going to be as general as possible as I don’t want to introduce any spoilers, but it’s definitely not for children or the faint of heart. There is no fluff involved here. This is deep and dark with lots of violent action, and a lot of the horror is NOT of the supernatural variety.
The book starts a little slow, in Jerusalem, with the very pregnant wife of the protagonist, Charles, stopping on a lark to see a fortune teller, or oracle, and immediately getting into a situation that went terribly wrong. The plot builds up from there, and I must admit that at first I thought it wasn’t going to be my kind of story or to my tastes at all because of the violence, or the political/religious aspects, and I’m not much into either of those. If you feel that way, I would advise you to KEEP READING. I did, and am EXTREMELY glad I did.
The author is so descriptive with his characters that in short order, the reader gets to know them well and they become real people with personalities that are likeable (or not, such as the priest Estevez). One can get pissed at them for doing something thoughtless, such as Charles’ seeming obliviousness in certain areas of his life which, among other things, strains his relationship with his son, Marcus.
There are plots and subplots, and things are not all black or white; the reader gets a sense of people doing the things they do because they believe it’s their duty or is the right thing to do (even if they’re wrong). These are not cardboard characters; even the bad guys have layers (though some are what I, or anybody else, would consider to be just plain bad). We learn a great deal about the revenant, Izz al-Din, and to my shock, there came a point where I found myself actually sympathizing with him, and believe me, I can’t remember a time when I’ve done that before! And, he’s a truly BAD, bad guy. Trust me: this bad guy’s story has a real twist, in more ways than one. The author sure knows how to surprise you and how to use words to paint images so you actually see a particular scene, some of which get pretty graphic.
This is a full-length, standalone novel (approximately 154, 811 words), but did leave what can only be construed as some “loose ends”, so I’m sincerely hoping there’s a sequel in the works. In the meantime, this book is a highly intriguing, thrilling and enjoyable read.
(reviewed within a week of purchase)
on April 17, 2013 :
Although the "The Devil's Bloodline" is a debut novel (i think), I am surprised by how few downloads it has but i liked the title and the summary so bought it...and thoroughly enjoyed it. So, don't be deterred by the length of this novel - it is a brisk, compelling and pacey page-turner with imaginative and unexpected twists and turns a-plenty. Also, don't be deterred by the references to Middle-East. This book does not analyse or, indeed, focus on any political or social unrest- the situations are merely used as stage-sets to serve as a colourful background for an enticing game of cat and mouse between the supernatural and the visceral. I don't want to give away any of the plot as each element of the novel has its own hidden clues hinting at the secret that begins to unravel towards the latter third of the book. Safe to say, there is the antagonist and protagonist, a thoroughly dark and devious priest with his own despicable agenda, action, thrills and blood-spills a-go-go and a little bit of romance thrown in for good effect. It's a well structured, well characterised novel and definitely an easy read- there's nothing too heavy, too complex, too wordy, too preachy or too worthy. Loved the Brazil situated aspect which seems genuinely well researched. The author, Andy Smith, (if that's his real name), doesn't write as if he has something to prove to the reader. There are some lighter, almost comedic moments and exchanges peppered among some of the best action scenes i've read in a while so the story doesn't take itself too seriously, either. Negatives? well, i didn't read it as a critic but maybe it leans a little towards the male readership (sounds sexist- especially as i'm female) - so, perhaps some of the more blood-thirsty aspects are not for the squeamish.
(reviewed the day of purchase)