Saturday, February 9, 2019

Book Review: 'Day of Vengeance' by Martin Berman-Gorvine

Washington, DC author Martin Berman-Gorvine is a professional journalist, currently serving as a reporter for the Bureau of National Affairs newsletter Human Resources Report. He has published seven books to date, and has become a popular science fiction writer, winning awards in both Canada and the US.

DAY OF VENGEANCE is Book 2 of Martin’s Days of Ascension series and in keeping with his apparent faith in his readers’ enjoyment of his works he adds a preliminary note: ‘After defeating the powerful demon Moloch and ending the horrid custom of human sacrifice in Chatham's Forge, teenagers Amos Ross, Suzie Mitchell, and Vickie Riordan find that freedom is elusive and evil a constant presence in their home town of Chatham's Forge, as the demon Asherah arises and demands her share of blood.’

Martin’s books fall into the Young Adult range and that is a receptive audience to science fiction and the occult and all things mysterious enough to defray the realities of our current time. His writing style punctuates the importance of involving characters with whom the YA audience can identify. For example, in opening Book 2 of his series, Martin writes, ‘What’s the first thing you do after the world has ended, but you and your girlfriend and the girl you accidentally cheated on her with are somehow still alive? I stand leaning on Vickie’s right shoulder, the girl I had turned to for comfort when I thought Suzie was dead, while Suzie leans against her left shoulder. Together we watch in stunned silence as a fiery mushroom cloud spills into the dead black sky in the direction of the Chatham’s Forge Town Hall, where Moloch, the demonic god who has ruled our town since before we were born, has been immolated. Suzie is the first to speak. “We did it,” she says hoarsely. “We killed Moloch! No more Virgin Sacrifices!” Which is excellent news for her. A few minutes ago she was bound to the hood of Jack Kolver’s 1963 Ford Thunderbird while Pastor Justin Bello, Moloch’s faithful servant, stood over her with his knife ready to slaughter her so that the demon could feast on her blood and guts. Now the pastor is as dead as his god, and the Cathedral where the annual All Souls Day Black Mass concluded barely an hour ago is a smoldering ruin. But they’ve taken the entire town with them. We are the only survivors, or so it seems. “We’d better find shelter,” I say, only to double over coughing on the ash drifting down all around us. The back of my head explodes with pain where someone hit me hard enough to knock me out cold as I charged ahead, gun in hand, to try to rescue Suzie. Red and black spots dance like moths in my field of vision and I struggle to stay conscious as the girls help me to my feet. Some hero I am. “Amos is right,” Vickie says, glancing at the sky. “My parents told me the ash and black rain that fell on the first All Souls Day was radioactive. It’s killing us a little more with every moment we stand here exposed.”

A distillation of the plot is provided – ‘What if you escaped being sacrificed to the evil god Moloch and banished him from your town at a terrible price in blood and destruction… only to become prey to gods more powerful and ruthless still? Teenage friends Suzie Mitchell, Amos Ross, and Vickie Riordan are plunged into this terrifying dilemma in the ruins of their hometown, Chatham’s Forge, in a world devastated by nuclear war. Stumbling through the wreckage, they must confront the physically living but soul-dead remains of their friends and family, the vengeful victims of the old order in the Forge, the ascent of the powerful and seductive goddess Asherah, and worst of all… the deeds they themselves are tempted to commit in their rage and grief.’

Solid concepts and skills and the ability to weave a story that captivates the reader from the start, Martin Berman-Gorvine has taken his place on the popular bench of YA Sci-Fi authors. Grady Harp, November 17

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.

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