Ginger Nuts of Horror
The Sinister Horror Company (25 July 2016)
It has to be commended when authors try something new or challenge themselves to write something that is just outside the canon of their previous work. A good author should grow with every book; they should try to better themselves with each word committed to the page, it doesn't always work, though, sometimes what could have been a fantastic piece of work can be hampered by one or two little niggling factors.
Duncan P. Bradshaw's Hexagram is a novel of epic proportions, in regards to both the story line and the structural makeup of the story. This time-spanning novel of ancient rituals and prophecies is certainly massive in its scope when an ancient Incan ritual is rudely interrupted it sets in motion a series of interlinked events that take in many of the histories most notorious events that threaten to destroy the very fabric of our existence.
The time-spanning narrative is suitably epic and enthralling, like a twisted 18 rated season of Dr Who, Bradshaw certainly knows how to make a story exciting. And the way ion which the novel is constructed from what feels like interlinked short stories lend the book an excellent episodic feel, that leaves the reader with that sort of cliffhanger feeling you only ever got with the Dr on a Saturday night. There was a danger that the narrative flow of the story arc could become broken and bitty, but Bradshaw ensures Hexagram remains a consistent and coherent story throughout its length. It's an exciting ride with plenty of shocks scares and nastiness to please even the most hardened horror fan, with touches of Lovecraftian Horror mixing in with more Clive Barker type body horror Hexagram, should have been a five-star review. There is so much to like about the book it is uncompromising, it is clearly an example of an author pushing themselves to be mature as a writer, and it is a wonderful hark back to the huge epic horror stories that we used to get. However, the book suffers from one flaw. For most of the book, the flaw is minor, and it doesn't impinge on your enjoyment of this great overall novel, but now and then it hits you in the face and takes you right out of the story.
Hexagram's one flaw is the dialogue, which to be fair must be one of the hardest things to get right in a book. The biggest problem with the dialogue is the fact that even though the book takes in 500 years almost everyone in the novel sort of sounds the same, which is fine. I would rather have that than a terrible attempt to write regional dialect that comes across as slightly racist, such as Steve Alten's cliched Scottish characters. So when a Spanish Conquistador thinks "bugger that will soak in" or "Sorry Mate I am a bit tipsy" it totally throws you out of the story, as you hear not the character speak, but the writer himself and his own regional vernacular. This is a pity as it is the book's only stumbling point, for the most part, it doesn't drag the story down, and exists more as a niggle, but occasionally the authors use of his own voice in the characters dialogue is derails the book.
Hexagram is a great read, don't let the issues with the dialogue put you off from reading the book, the 500-year story line is a triumph, Bradshaw's Hexagram is certainly a page turner that balances an exciting storyline with some big ideas, to great effect.