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Archive for February 29th, 2012

A Satan Carol by spiritual horror author Alan Steven Kessler combines elements of the macabre and parody/satire to explore the concepts of free will and evil. Not having read in this horror subcategory before, I was intrigued when I received a copy of this ebook for review.

The story begins in 1848 Ireland during a time of intense famine. A poor, nearly starved boy dies in the countryside, releasing a ‘golden soul,’ a special soul full of kindness and healing power. Had he lived, he would have infected generations with goodness.

The tale then moves 180 years later to Christmas Eve in Massachusetts, where we encounter Katie Katz, a troubled, pregnant 14-year old who’s planning an abortion. Revolving around her are various characters who are interconnected in some way, either by family ties or by Mr. Green—aka the Devil—who has an agenda and will stop at nothing to tempt them and play with their conscience.

Among these characters are Katie’s father, Harvey Katz, a top notch lawyer who defends rapists and killers, does drugs and treats women like objects; her grandfather Orem, who’s cursed with prophesies and visions no one believes; Fritz Mueller, a gruesome doctor who performs abortions and uses the fetuses to extract a serum that could affect people’s growth. There are others, too, such as Katie’s mother and Harvey’s assistant.

Through the generations, Mr. Green has been following these people since birth, trying to shape their destinies to suit his purposes. At the top of his agenda, of course, is the golden soul and the way it could affect his son Pal. Though we have an idea that all the characters are pawns in Mr. Green’s evil games, it isn’t until the middle that we get a clearer picture of what’s really going on.

Mr Green tries to convince and trick his victims with dreams and hallucinations, but in the end, they have free will. As the plot evolves and the characters opt to follow the right path, Mr. Green grows increasingly frustrated. In fact, he becomes exhausted and whiny, prone to temper tantrums. After all, it isn’t easy bending the fabric of time and trying to be everywhere at once.

Who is the ghost of Christmas Eve? Is it Pal, Satan’s son? Is it Katie’s unborn child? Or is it the golden soul itself? Will Satan get his way in the end?

A Satan Carol moves back and forth in time and is told from multiple points of view. It is a well-written story with a heavy message that will especially appeal to Christian readers. Though some of the segments are gruesome and bordering on the bizarre, at times Kessler uses dark, twisted humor to lighten the prose. The story explores the universal theme of good versus evil with a particular focus on the power of free will. Kessler writes with a lot of attention to detail and some of the paragraphs are quite long, especially in the first half of the book. The pacing is faster in the second half, with less exposition and lots more dialogue.

A Satan Carol is an out-of-the-ordinary read that invites self pondering. Recommended for readers of horror and Christian fiction who’d like to try something different.

A Satan Carol
by Alan Steven Kessler
Wild Child Publishing
ISNB: 978-1-61798-013-8
Copyright 2009
290 pages
$5.99
Formats: PDF, HTML, ePub, Mobi, Lit, PRC
Spiritual/Christian Horror
Author’s website: http://www.askessler.com
Listen to the first chapter online: http://www.askessler.com/listen.html

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The Eden Paradox, by Barry Kirwan, is an enjoyable read that will be relished by fans of science fiction.

Fifty years into the future, the earth has been maimed by war and is near collapse from heat exhaustion. Scientists have already found the vaccine for AIDS and robot soldiers have quelled rebel invasions. The 3-year long World War between the United Secular Nations and the ‘Big Five’ Religious Front countries has left half a billion dead and a shortage of food (beef has hit $300 a kilo), power and fuel.

Then a new planet is discovered: Eden, a green-purple world bathed in blood-orange sunlight, a planet filled with virgin lakes and forests, a place so beautiful it could be compared to pre-war Switzerland.
Now, the Ulysses, a faster-than-light ship carrying a crew of four astronauts, is on its way to Eden. The venture has given one last hope to mankind. If Eden fails, all humanity will see is an abyss.

Then one of the astronauts begins having strange nightmares about a desert-filled Eden and a horrific creature. The nightmares put the astronauts on edge. After all, there’s reason for concern: Ulysses isn’t the first mission to Eden. There were two before which failed miserably under mysterious circumstances. One stopped transmitting after an hour of arrival; the other one exploded five days before landing. Do the nightmares have any substance or in any way predict the future? What, in reality, is going on in Eden?

The Eden Paradox is a well-written, action-packed, suspenseful novel. Told in multiple points of view separated by chapters, the story moves mainly between two characters: Micah, analyst at Eden Mission Control on earth, and Blake, lead astronaut at the Ulysses. Micah feels he’s being thrust into a vortex of murder, deception and conspiracy; he feels coerced into a probably fatal role in a game he doesn’t understand nor cares about. Blake, on the other hand, is intend on protecting his crew, find out what’s really going on in Eden, and return to earth successfully. In spite of all the action, there are a lot of exposition and backstory in the first few chapters. There are also a lot of characters and it took me a while to identify with any one of them.

However, I have to say that the scenes are very film-like in nature and I felt as if I were watching a movie. Although the plotline is different, the pace and tone reminded me of the Alien series, which are one of my favorites. The author uses a lot of detail to bring his fictional world to life, and in this aspect he was quite successful. In short, even though I’m not an avid fan of sci-fi, I enjoyed the novel and would definitely recommend it to readers of the genre.

A native of Farnborough, England, author Barry Kirwan grew up watching planes at the annual air show. Unable to become an astronaut, he did the next best thing—become a science fiction writer. When he’ not working in air traffic safety, he can be found writing his Eden Trilogy and other stories. Visit him at www.barrykirwan.com.

The Eden Paradox
By Barry Kirwan
Summertime Publications Inc
http://www.summertimepublications.com/
summertime.publications@gmail.com
ISBN-10: 0982369840
ISBN-13: 978-0982369845
Science Fiction Thriller
Paperback, 476 pages, $16.99
October 15, 2011

Author’s website: www.barrykirwan.com

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