Advantages Quite well writte, doesn't take long to read
Disadvantages Poor characters, too slow to be thrilling, unoriginal storyline
Dr Harry Dobbs is the personification of scepticism. With a PhD in Evolutionary Biology he is also a practitioner of magic and sleight of hand and has made a career of exposing the truth behind “miracles” from such shameless crooks as bogus shaman healers and other religious conmen. Unfortunately, his life has recently gone to the dogs with his marriage hanging on by a slender thread after his wife Angie’s infidelity and his brother Gus facing imminent demise at the hands of cancer with only a very expensive surgery available to prolong his life, which naturally their insurance doesn’t cover. When debating rival Father Alfred Perkins offers Harry a more than ample fee (that would, by a strange coincidence, cover Gus’ medical bills) for his fraud investigating skills into rumours of an occult having taken over the church in a small town of New Hampshire he finds he has no choice but to accept and decides to take Angie along with him in his undercover role with a hope of healing their marriage rift. What Harry thinks will be easy money turns out to be more deadly than he could have ever imagined and puts his beliefs (or their lack of) to the test – can he put a stop to the strange goings on in this small New Hampshire town or will the evil lurking there be unleashed out into the world?The Skeptic: An Occult Thriller was penned by relative unknown author Aaron Niz who has gone down the e-publishing route with his many novels solely in digital format ranging from young adult fiction to humour to horror and this particular novel is a venture into the realms of supernatural horror. The premise was a promising, albeit less than original story, with the potential to have been a spooky page turner and genuine thrill ride, but for me there was just something missing, some kind of wall up that prevented me from truly immersing myself in the story which made it a slightly disappointing and ultimately laborious read. I think the real trouble was I’d come across this plotline in dozens of films, TV programs and also in other books so absolutely nothing came as a surprise to me and I felt my own sense of presentience taking over at almost every turn so the element of shock was certainly lost. Of course, for those of you that may not have come across such an idea before this could have a totally different atmosphere for you, but for me it was more chilblains than chilling.
It’s hard to put my finger on why I felt so disconnected to the story, all the right ingredients were there with a small isolated town setting, some shady and downright frightening individuals plus some horrific events that should be enough to unsettle if not fully disturb us, the reader, but I never felt even an iota of fear, and one of the biggest problems was most definitely with the main character Harry Dobbs. I thought I would be able to relate with him as a fellow sceptic but I found him a little self-righteous, sanctimonious, intolerant and to be honest a bit of a self-absorbed jackass. A man whose debating skills consist of “To be honest, I wasn’t taking the question seriously because it isn’t a serious question.
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