Spring into Horror Read-a-Thon, I'm pleased to present my second horrific review of the week, a fun read entitled Poseidon’s Children by Michael West.
I first discovered Michael via one of the Seventh Star Singles I won in a giveaway sponsored by Seventh Star Press. It was an amazing story, and once I had a chance to read my first Michael West novel, Cinema of Shadows, I was well and truly hooked.
Poseidon’s Children represents a bit of a change of pace for Michael, being the first volume of his urban fantasy series, The Legacy of the Gods. Lest you think he's moved entirely away from the realm of horror, however, just check out that cover with its homage to the likes of Evil Dead and Jaws. This is urban fantasy in terms of scope (it's bigger than anything he's done before, with a ton more characters) and plot (it's a lot more layered and intricate than his previous work), but individual scenes are still drenched in the kind of horror we've come to expect . . especially in the opening scene:
Susan Rogers had been right to fear the water. There were monsters lurking just below its churning surface. Now, they pulled her down into the dark depths; things with black and orange stripes, things with claws, with fangs like sharpened steak knives, and, unfortunately for her, they were not inclined to swallow her whole.
That last paragraph, right there, sums up so much of the book - yes, there's the horror and the gore, but also the sense of something far more sinister, intelligent, and calculating behind it.
This is a story about lost civilizations, mythological pantheons, and honest-to-gosh sea monsters, with enough contemporary elements (scientists, billionaires, artists, authorities, and hit men) to effectively anchor things and keep it at least plausible. It takes a while before we understand how all the characters fit into the story, and some of them only creep into the story to be dragged off in a frenzy of blood a few pages later, but it all works. The multiple viewpoints give it a cinematic feel, and the way in which Michael builds the characters ensures we're never at a loss as to who is dominating the scene.
Even with all the additional demands of setting up a multi-volume urban fantasy series, Michael still keeps the pacing tight and the storytelling sharp. There are moments of comedy and romance to help temporarily alleviate the tension, and enough awe-inspiring moments of mythological monstrosity to keep even the most jaded reader engaged.
I hadn't expected to enjoy this one as much as I did, but I am definitely looking forward to the next chapter, especially after that cliffhanger ending, which introduces another layer of horror to the fantasy.