Sunday, February 3, 2019

Book Review: 'Exodus: The Warrior Within (The Darkening, #2)' by E.H. James

Exodus by E.H. James
“You’re not losing your mind.”

Canadian author E.H. James is a prolific writer of short stories – stories that test the imagination and call forth ghost like thoughts of the dark world about which we know very little. James is part of that conundrum as there is no biographical information on this gifted author as though that is meant to be part of the mysteries presented. We learn that she has read and researched in the areas of parapsychology and metaphysics, for the past 40 years, and has woven the real and imaginary together into stories of the strange and bizarre. The fruits of her labor show!

This is Part II of her series THE DARKENING and James’ mastery of the short story is obvious to those readers fortunate to have been introduced to her craft. In a matter a few pages she is able to conjure an atmosphere that challenges the reader’s courage to enter past the initial page, and the manner in which she quickly sketches lifelike characters and draws us into their interactions with the challenges they encounter is masterful.

Some of the atmospheric writing is present in the first few pages – ‘Hank shot up in bed. For a moment, he sat clutching the blanket, his heart racing. He grabbed a pen and notepad from the bedside table. Holding the pen poised to write, his hand trembled. The empty white sheet glared at him. The fleeting images even now abandoning his thoughts. He sighed and tossed the pad and pen onto the table. Throwing the blankets aside, he swung his legs of the edge of the bed. Tiny clawed feet clicked on the wood flooring, as they scurried in the shadows. He turned, but there was nothing there. He half shrugged and snatched the pants and shirt form the chair by the bed. Yawning, he strolled into the washroom and relieved himself. He washed his hands and splashed cold water on this face. Pressing his palms onto the cold porcelain of the sink, he raised his head. On the window sill behind him, there was a ball of fur about the size of a kitten. Its hair was scraggly, and it had no tail. “What the …?” The creature shifted on short legs, its red eyes staring into his. Baring long needle-like teeth, it leaped from the sill straight at his face…….”That was not real. This is not happening.”

But on to the story – ‘Cornelius Blackwell’s great, great grandson has inherited Raven Manor—his first order of business…tear up the floorboards with the protective symbol. You see, like his great, great grandfather, he too wants to make a deal with the devil. However, not only is the Darkening once more opened, but a gateway from the underworld is created, and creatures begin to spill out into this dimension. Aware the Darkening has been reopened, Rosario prevents any more creatures from entering this world, but not before the Source casts a malevolent net around Raven Manor. Drawing the life’s energy from the people inside, the Source will create a tipping point, allowing his world to blend with this one. Only Rosario has an ace up her sleeve, and she intends to use it. Will an exodus overtake the world as we know it? Or will three unsung heroes step into the breach to save us all?’

Richly painted grotesqueries flood the pages of this mesmerizing book. E. H. James must have traveled in that other world to be so concisely informed! Fine reading! 

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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