Hardcover 352 pgs
Synopsis: 1914. The outbreak of war. In the French city of Arras, a Father is brutally murdered. The Catholic Inquisition, still powerful, but now working in the shadows sends its most determined and unhinged of Inquisitors, Poldek Tacit to investigate his mission to protect the Church from those who would seek to undermine it, no matter what the cost. Yet as Tacit arrives, armed forces led by Britain and Germany confront each other across No Man’s Land. As the Inquisitor strives in vain to establish the truth behind the murder and to uncover the motives of other Vatican servants seeking to undermine him, a beautiful and spirited woman, Sandrine, warns British soldier Henry Frost of a mutual foe even more terrible lurking beneath the killing fields that answers to no human force and wreaks their havoc by the light of the moon. Faced with impossible odds and his own demons, Tacit must battle the forces of evil, and a church determined at all costs to achieve its aims, to reach the heart of a dark conspiracy that seeks to engulf the world, plunging it ever deeper into conflict. Morally complex and fast paced, this is a gripping work of dark fiction set in an alternative twentieth century, where humanity’s desire for love, compassion and peace face daunting challenges in a world overwhelmed by total war and mysterious dark forces.
I received this book a couple of weeks ago for review but was unable to read it at the time. Now that I’ve had a moment to sit down and enjoy it, let’s jump into the review.
To begin, this is book two in the Darkhand Trilogy and I haven’t had the pleasure of reading the prequel The Hunted. But i feel I didn’t need to read the Haunted. The Damned which takes place during World War 1 is a good standalone story.
The story is a mash-up indeed, mixing genres but it’s done in a way as not to lose the reader. I will admit I am a werewolf fan. I find plots involving them in mixed genre stories intriguing. And this by far, was a well crafted “werewolf”story. While I don’t fancy myself as one who reads a lot of historical fiction, kudos to Tarn Richardson for submerging me into the shock and brutality of W.W.1 giving me the ability to “feel” like I was there. Case in point, Tarn described a place called “No Mans’s Land’. A horrid, putrid, and grim area ripe with death.
Again, the descriptions were stunning and when Tarn mixed in the supernatural(werewolves) the story was off to a great start. Then as though that weren’t enough, religion was intertwined with the entire story.
I’m not going to worry about spoilers in this review. For those who haven’t read it, I won’t give anything too important away.
Let’s look at the lead character Poledek Tacit. He plays an Inquisitor and is familiar with all of the priests and upper Vatican leaders. His personality reflects a harsh, insensitive person but one with a very disciplined nature. He refuses to initially acknowledge “Hombre Lobo” like his peers do, but at the same time, he is determined to solve the grisly murder of some priests.
Meanwhile there is a classic battle brewing among the church’s hierarchy over Tacit’s abilities and the cause of the murders. There’s where our female lead character Sandrine comes in. She’s an unconventional type of woman for the time period,beautiful, but set in her ways. Some people find her difficult to figure out yet like any good story character, she harbors secrets below her exterior.
However my favorite character has to be Sister Isabella. She’s strong willed, passionate and a devote Christian. she reminds me of Sister Goodnight from John Wayne’s movie Rooster Cogburn. Aside from her traits, her presence in the story seems to be the role of keeping an eye on Poledek, making sure he stays focused on his job. She’s repulsed by his personality, methods and behaviors, yet it seems she has some basic belief he’ll solve the murders. She bumps heads with him often, (almost sibling like) and this helps to keep the story moving.
Speaking of moving, the chapters in The Damned are short..very short. However nothing is lot in the short chapters and the plot develops nicely.
Overall, I’m giving The Damned by Tarn Richardson 4 stars. It’s well written, plot rich, and the balance of mixing the supernatural with history and religion was well done. The characters themselves were spot on. Growing up catholic, I could easily identify with the priests and cardinals personalities and mannerisms.
And let’s not forget the ending. If you haven’t read it, I’ll just say it was great. If you have, you’ll probably agree with me.
About the author: Tarn Richardson, was brought up in a remote house, rumoured to be haunted, near Taunton, Somerset. He has worked as a copywriter, written mystery murder dinner party games and worked in digital media for nearly twenty years. He lives near Salisbury in England. The Damned is his debut novel, the first in a series of three, featuring tortured Inquisitor Poldek Tacit.