Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Black Cathedral - L.H. Maynard & M.P.N. Sims

This is my first venture into the world of Maynard and Sims, so I don’t know if this is part of a series or not. The little blurb under the title of “A Department 18 Novel” implies to me that there are more novels (or intended novels) about the group from Department 18.

So who is Department 18? Why they are a government group of Psychics, telekinetics, and ghost busters… not that we get to see them bust any ghosts or anything. So what is Department 18 doing? Well when they aren’t bickering amongst themselves and puffing up their petty egos, they are investigating why a bunch of people have disappeared on a Scottish island with no traces left… not even the helicopter.

This book opens well; the first scene with Robert in the house is almost wonderful. The bugs, were a chilling touch… and the way it wrapped up… well it was disappointing but it was still a fun scene. Then we get into the real meat of the tale… disappearing people on an island! This book seemed like it was really going somewhere… then we have about half the book of them researching and monologue after monologue of back story, personal feelings, previous relationships, etc… it bogs down quickly. By the time we get to the island I was thrilled to see how these annoying folks were going to meet their end… and even that turned out to be a letdown.

This book suffers from what I like to think of as “Too much magic.” We have the psychics… and that has to be explained to us, as well as their powers, and how their powers affect them, etc. Then we have to learn about ley lines, and have that explained to us… then we have to look into the malevolent evil on the island and that takes pages and pages of exposition and explanation. By the time we are done everyone seems to have some sort of super power, the baddie is a superbaddie, and people disappearing isn’t all that scary to begin with… mainly because there is always the chance they could reappear.

I normally like this kind of tale, but the problem was that there was so much explaining going on, that I really didn’t care about what happened anymore. I was also a bit disappointed in the ending… rather over the top without the heart. The actual writing style was good enough… but they never managed to pull me into their story… rather it seemed like they kept pushing the reader out and reminding them “it’s just a story; don’t invest too much in to this.” I’m not quite sure why that wall was there, perhaps the characters, perhaps the exposition, or maybe the story just went too far for me to lock in on it. Still there are plenty of people out there who will like this novel… it just wasn’t for me.

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