Evan May’s The King In Darkness is outside my usual genre but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It reminded me of the gritty detective sagas of Raymond Chandler, though Adam Godwinson is a decidedly less-gritty and more endearing hero. A former priest, Adam now works at a used bookstore until the children he used to guide at his parish come to him with a mysterious volume full of undecipherable script.
The book leads Adam to the writings of Charles Warrington, whose disjointed ramblings about a strange otherworldly being who eats sunlight begin to sound less like fiction and more like warnings. With the help of his former professor, Todd Marchale, and the members of Adam’s former Friday Guild; Bones, Sophia, James, Alex and Fred, Adam searches through Ottawa to discover clues as to who would want to summon such a creature. He and his friends increasingly find themselves under attack and start to wonder just how extensive the conspiracy truly is.
For me, the blunt but brilliant Professor Marchale stole the show. He is exactly the kind of irascible, challenging and insightful teacher of whom campus legends are built and as a fan of Sherlock Holmes and House, the type of character that I enjoy most. I was also impressed by the portrayal of Alex as a homeless schizophrenic. His struggle to share his knowledge is heart-breakingly poignant.
I was intrigued by May’s concept of despair as a contagious disease and would have liked to have explored that more within the story and particularly within Adam’s character arc. Adam moves smoothly from a “just get through today” mentality into realizing just how much he has allowed himself to become restricted by it. It is too easy to put one’s hopes and dreams on a shelf, only to look up and discover that years have passed.
As a first novel, The King In Darkness shows a good understanding of structure, pacing and character growth. And Ottawa residents will enjoy seeing our beautiful city placed on display.
I’d recommend The King In Darkness to anyone looking for a light paranormal mystery and adventure.
The King in Darkness is available through Renaissance Press in paperback and ebook.
Jennifer Carole Lewis writes paranormal romance and is currently working on her third novel, Inquisition.