Sunday, June 10, 2018

Book Review: 'Drums in the Abyss' by Michael W. Garza

Michael W. Garza comfortably posts on his Facebook page, `Zombies, spaceships, and dragons have all found a place in my writing. I often find myself wondering where my inspiration will come from next and in what form my imagination will bring it to life. The outcomes regularly surprise me and it's always my ambition to amaze those curious enough to follow me and take in those results. I sincerely hope that everyone will find something that astonishes, surprises, or simply scares the heck out of you.' Those of us who were captivated with his previous books `The Hand that Feeds', `The Elder Unearthed', ‘Tribes of Decay’, ‘Season of Decay’, ‘‘The Last Infection, and ‘A Veil of Shadows’ then DRUMS IN THE ABYSS: Rise of the Elder Book 1 will find equal fascination with this Young Adult novel that once again terrifies without totally upsetting the reader.

One of the many aspects of Michael's novels that makes them absorb the reader's attention and surroundings is his ability to flow the story through dialogue. No long descriptive passages of `setting up' the stage; Michael lets the characters' responses to each other and to the myriad bizarre occurrences push the story along. He opens this new novel with his usual fine prose – ‘Professor William Markinson wrote June 19 in the top right corner of his journal and then slammed it closed in frustration. His archeological team had been lost down in the abominable caves west of the city of Bursa for nearly a full day. Their faithful guide Ahmed continued his pursuit of their freedom from the darkness. The professor feared none of them had faith that a joyful ending awaited. There were five in the group including Professor Markinson’s assistant Alex Reed; the jack-of-all-trades, Ms. Lauren Miller; Ahmed; and his nephew, Emre. It was by the professor’s insistence that they were there, and he was miserable for it. His passion to uncover the truth behind the Cult of the Elder overwhelmed him far beyond his common sense, and he feared the worst was yet to come. “I need a moment,” the professor said, holding up his hand. “Just some time to catch my breath.” There was a collective groan from the group but no real detractors. Each of them sat down on the cold stone ground in a loose circle. Lauren furiously typed away on her tablet. Alex joined the professor before too long. “We seem to be descending,” Alex said, whispering. He was critical of Ahmed and had expressed his reservations numerous times about continuing to follow the guide. “I’m sure we should have given an effort to climb the fracture in the rock we found an hour ago.” It was the third time he reminded the professor of his suggestion since Ahmed disagreed with him. “We should go it alone,” he mumbled to himself. Professor Markinson had grown tired of Alex’s constant complaining, but he reminded himself that Alex was only there by his request. As a graduate student, under his personal guidance for a full year, Alex was the logical choice to join the expedition. However, their relationship at the university had not prepared the professor for dealing with the young man’s personality quirks in such a stressful situation.’

The synopsis aligns our expectations – ‘Professor William Markinson’s lifelong research led him to the vast hidden caves beneath the sacred grounds west of Bursa. The true aims of his search are well hidden from the other members of the expedition team, but the lost city of Morgainok cannot be denied. The ancient roads echo with the drums of the abyss, leaving five lost souls at the mercy of the city. Horrors stand at every turn as elder things lurk in the shadows. Lauren Miller is right to guard herself from the others. The dire situation has left the expedition team on the run. She will have to stave off the madness of what she has witnessed for any hope of escape. She must confront the caretakers of the unholy city or Morgainok will keep her forever. This Horror Survival Series documents the last days of those mortals foolish enough to pry into the affairs of the Cult of the Elder. The dark secrets are tempting, but few live to tell of the horrendous wonders beyond the void.’

Now that you have the theme, jump into this book and see why Michael has mastered the scare realm. This man can frighten even the most jaded reader - and that is a very good thing in a time when we are all becoming so cellphone computer-driven flatline in our way of dealing with ideas. He jars us, makes us think, substantiates the possibilities of an approach of realism to his creations, and in the end provides a very fine novel that creeps into our psyches. He is good, very good. Grady Harp, June 18
I received a free copy of this book and volunteered to review it.

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.