This has to be one of the best novels I’ve read in a long time.
Dr Bond, a doctor in Victorian England, is asked by the police to look into the Jack the Ripper killings. As more bodies appear on the streets of London, it becomes clear to Bond that there are two murders at work and that, as horrific as Jack may be, the Thames Torso Killer is far worse. With some unlikely and unexpected allies, he sets out to track down the killer to protect not only London but also the people he loves. Throw in a growing opium habit and some supernatural shenanigans, and you have yourself one hell of a read.
If you are, like me, a huge fan of “The Terror” by Dan Simmons, then this should be the next book on your reading list. Sarah started out in pure horror but has taken a step sideways into historical crime. “Mayhem” shows just how at home in this genre she is. She blends historical fact with fantastic fiction, until you can’t tell where one ends and the other begins.
As a fellow female writer of horror, Sarah’s books have been on my reading list for a while, but what really prompted me to read “Mayhem” was an article she wrote about how she had researched the historical elements. It was a thoughtful and detailed article which made me want to read the book itself.
There were a few bits at the beginning as she settles into her style that jarred a little. For example, I’m not sure how your insides can feel greasy, tired or frustrated. However, about halfway through the book I was so absorbed that she could have told me grass was purple and birds fly backwards, and I would have accepted that. The pace was good, with the tension broken by lovely sections of often black humour – the reporter’s dog coming to mind as one example.
As with all good fiction, the strength of “Mayhem” is its characters. Each one is distinct, every one is engaging, and our flawed hero (Bond) grabs your sympathies from page one. Her pairings of characters are well conceived, such as the logical Bond and the zealous priest, or Moore and Andrews. The horror elements too were well-written; the descriptions of the murders were gruesomely accurate, while the supernatural elements were strong but subtle. After reading about the upir’s first appearance, I confess to being incredibly creeped out when my daughter asked for a piggyback ride.
There is enough suspense, gore and supernatural events in this book to satisfy a horror fan, while the historical elements will appeal to a more general reader. Check it out, and see if your shadow looks the same way again.
Review by Charlotte Bond
Charlotte has had several short stories published in various formats from print to electronic and even audio. She has a novella out with Screaming Dreams publications, and a short story anthology due out this year. She is currently working on a novel and some radio productions.
Charlotte is thrilled to join the Ginger Nuts of Horror team, and is looking forward to indulging in two of her favourite things - reading new books and spouting opinions.
Originally from North Yorkshire, Charlotte now lives in Leeds and that's as far south as she's prepared to go. She is married and lives with a small child and a very fluffy cat. One of them is a small bundle of hurricane-level energy which tears up everything it passes; the other leaves hairballs wherever it sits. It is left up to the reader to decide which is which.