Sacrament by Steve Stred

The doorway is nearly open, the Black Heavens await. Closer to his goal than ever before, Father begins to alter his physical form so that he’s able to take his place beside the cosmic gods. The only one with plans to stop him is Professor Bianchi, yet his role is uncertain as alarming revelations present themselves.

(WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers.)

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Sacrament follows Ritual and Communion, concluding Stred’s extreme horror trilogy, where one man and his followers strive to ascend to the Black Heavens. From an inside look at the commune through one of its members (Brad), to the investigation that plunged a detective into madness (McKay), the final instalment switches it up yet again, putting Professor Bianchi in the spotlight. Bianchi is revealed to be connected to the cult in some way, yet he’s determined to thwart whatever grand plan’s at play. The thing that got me about Stred’s writing is that he did a lot with a little, especially with the characters and how they expressed themselves in specific ways. “Father” – the central villain I’ve praised before – exuded cruelty and wickedness in his every action, not to mention the nauseating quality he brought to the page. Undergoing a transformation, body horror surrounded Father; another spicy ingredient in the mixture of zealotry and sex, and another thing that drew my interest. Stred knew exactly how to keep things grim, as well as how to push boundaries with such limited space. Nowadays it’s a special thing to have short fiction so accessible, because it has the potential to hit the mark as powerfully as any lengthy novel. An example would be this trilogy – in the hands of the right reader, it’s a nasty, memorable treat.

In conclusion: Sacrament is the finale of the Father of Lies trilogy, featuring a whole lot of unpleasantness as a cult attempts to open the gates to a mythical plane of existence. With demonic entities, vile appetites, and almost nobody to root for, it was a high-speed climax that pulled no punches. I’ve been a fan since Ritual, and it was a pleasure to see how the story was expanded on with its biblical elements regarding Sheol and Abaddon. Stred has one hell of an imagination, one able to twist and disturb while still maintaining an engaging plot. I was desperate to know Father’s fate, and it didn’t disappoint.

Notable Quote:

“He’ll say what is necessary. Remember, sometimes it is ideal to be broken instead of repaired.”

© Red Lace 2022

Goodreads ~ Twitter

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