My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Leo Cartwright’s retirement plan doesn’t go exactly to plan – not when he meets Christopher Tate after his very last show. Christopher has a secret to share, one that he entrusts with his favourite comedian. When Christopher ends up dead soon thereafter, what’s Leo to do but act on the information he’s been given, even if it’s completely insane? Setting out to find the mysterious town named Elswich, Leo can’t deny there’s something off about the entire thing. For one thing, the community of the town doesn’t seem normal.
(WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers.)
I feel like it took me too long to get around to this one – I should have read it the moment I got my hands on it. Concepts like this, where a ragtag group need to save the world really do appeal to me. There’s obvious excitement due to the overwhelming odds stacked against the “heroes”, but my interest primarily lies in the physical and mental struggles involved. I like when the journey takes its toll, and tramples the personalities of those so deeply embroiled in something much bigger than themselves. I’m happy to say Hayward didn’t disappoint in this regard; he put his characters through hell. I appreciated the effort put into their development – their newfound bond was also a pleasure to read. There’s nothing like a blooming friendship whilst battling cultists, right? The only issue I had was with the youngest of the group. I found that Caleb’s dialogue and behaviour, most of the time, didn’t resemble that of a twelve-year-old child. It was however a tiny thing that I overlooked for the most part.
The lore was also a highlight. When it comes to plot-lines with such an extensive universe – involving terrible and godlike entities – my imagination goes into overdrive. I just want to know more of everything; I want the author to feed my fascination. I guess I’m just a fan of the cosmic side of the genre, and with a crazy religious cult thrown in, I was in my element. This was a prime example when religion added to the story, made it all the more captivating. In the past I’ve had the displeasure of reading personal statements disguised as horror, but Hayward wasn’t preachy, and he certainly didn’t have an ulterior motive other than to entertain. One particular aspect I enjoyed was the shifting mentality of said cult – they were just people, their humanity oftentimes showing through in their cowardice.
The pace didn’t slack all that much, however there were a lot of changes in scenery due to a near-constant moving around. I didn’t mind the charming road trip atmosphere with the RV, nor the dreams to another plane of existence, but the plane travel struck me as messing with the overall flow. It put an abrupt halt on events, and the thought of those people going from the dramatics of running for their lives, to sitting respectfully in an aircraft, was a bit absurd to me.
The explosion of an ending was rife with action and entrails. It was fast-paced, thrilling and largely unpredictable. With novels such as this, the outcome of who survives and who dies has its own allure. Horror doesn’t need a happy ending, and so it’s worthwhile to see what the author has in store for that final climax.
In conclusion: I had a lot of fun reading The Faithful, and being my very first experience with Hayward, I can’t wait for more. It had a touch of Lovecraft, as well as the lovable ol’ good versus evil trope that never gets old. My complaints were minimal; nothing was overly detrimental to my enjoyment.
Huge globes now focused upward, in pure, electrified amusement. They quivered and darted about the scene above them, hungry for the finale. An ancient and prehistoric sea creature. A creature in the Sea of Darkness.
© Red Lace 2019