Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Matriarch – review

Author: Kevin Ranson

First Published: 2013

Contains spoilers

The Blurb: Vampires don't believe in ghosts.

Every October, the freshmen at Glenville State College are told stories about Sis Linn, the local ghost who haunts Clark Hall and the graveyard where she's buried. Murdered in 1919, she was beaten beyond recognition, the target of a brutal killer who was never caught.

Present-day student Janiss Connelly is about to find out that the stories are wrong - and that there are greater things to fear in life and in death than ghosts.

The review: For full disclosure Kevin Ranson is a Facebook friend and his Matriarch series of books were provided for review.

You might be concerned, reading the blurb, that the Matriarch could spin into the arena of Young Adult fiction – not that there is necessarily anything wrong with Young Adult fiction of course – but the fact that it is ostensibly college based might spin your thoughts in that direction. It is not. Indeed I was struck, within the opening pages and an evocative visit to a church, by the accurate impression that this was certainly a horror novel and the author maintains such a line and also maintains a line of vampires as pure creatures of the supernatural.

As such expect a tome where the vampires essentially die during the day and, although they can function (until they get themselves into earth and any earth will serve), they look like the rotten corpse they truly are, unable to maintain the supernaturally disguised masquerade they wear during the night. These vampires can control the weather and mortal minds, being staked causes paralysis (or, in essence, pins them, as the stake was originally said to do). They can die through immolation but religious artefacts have no impact..

All of which gives us the general lore Ranson works with but one thing I particularly liked about the story was he kept it small. This was not an earth shattering stage but actually the battle between two exes, into which the focal character, Janiss, falls. That’s not to say that the baddie isn’t really bad, the character Ian reveals himself to be nicely twisted.

The best compliment to the book, however, is that it kept me interested, the prose was crisp and I actively wanted to return to the book. Very occasionally the dialogue seemed forced, mainly when it was used for exposition, but such a feeling was a rarity and mostly the dialogue held up very well indeed, and certainly his characters all received their own distinct, and interesting, voices.

A great opening to the series. 7.5 out of 10.

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