Those unfamiliar with author Michaelbrent Collings should know that he is a a multi-award-winning and multi-bestselling author of such novels as The Haunted, The Loon, Rising Fears, and the #1 Bestseller, Run. He is also an accomplished screenwriter and writes successfully in multiple genres. His latest release, Apparition, was recently released as a paperback and e-book in July of 2012.
Apparition is rightly ascribed to the horror genre; but in this time of increasing multi-genre and cross-genre titles, could also be readily described as a suspense/action thriller with supernatural content. Whatever the genre label, this novel is, without resorting to any excess or voyeuristic, gratuitous ‘torture porn’ elements, one of the most intense and frightening novels this reviewer has read in many a year.
The author provides, in an extremely interesting and worthwhile “Author’s Note” placed after the novel, in detail, the genesis of the novel. For purposes of this review it is sufficient to state that the novel concerns the subject/topic of filicide – the murder of one’s own children. Author Collings ponders the question of why there are numerous instances where a seemingly loving parent suddenly turns upon and kills their own child or children. Indeed, as the author also points out in his Prologue, it is actually the third-leading cause of death among American children between the ages of 5 and 14 years of age. It is a particularly heinous and horrific crime and though the question has been asked and examined many times in recent times as a result of the number of such reported actual, gruesome crimes, few, if any reasonable answers have been forthcoming. The author’s proposed explanation, as it is tantalizingly and carefully revealed throughout the course of the fast-moving novel, is as clever as it is chilling.
The novel begins by introducing the reader to the Wills family, Shane and Kari, the thirty-something parents and their two children, the thirteen-year-old daughter, Ella, and the six-year-old son, Matthew. The reader then follows this family from an explosive beginning through a horrifying and blood-soaked journey to an even more explosive and surprising ending. [* Reviewer’s Note: To go into any further detail concerning the storyline would likely be detrimental to the reader’s enjoyment of the novel itself, so the Reviewer has strived mightily to not include any ‘spoilers’ in this review.]
As far as style and readability, it is evident from the first page that author Michaelbrent Collings is a highly accomplished author. The novel reads as grippingly as William Peter Blatty’s masterpiece, The Exorcist, with distinct touches of both vintage Michael Crichton and Clive Barker. Again, I use the term intense to describe this novel with deliberation – not only was this reviewer loath to put down the novel, once begun, for any reason, but anything that took him away from the novel, be it meals, the eventual necessity for sleep, even telephone calls, caused noticeable irritation atypical to my normal demeanor.
Furthermore, as one reads the novel, it also becomes readily apparent that Michaelbrent Collings is indeed an accomplished screenwriter in a most complimentary way. There is no excess ‘filler’ within the novel and the writing and action is highly visual. The reader can perceive how easily the novel could be adapted into a film, and quite a good film, if they only follow the novel.
In conclusion, Apparition is not just a ‘recommended’ novel, it is easily one of the most entertaining and satisfying horror novels this reviewer has read within the past few years. I cannot imagine that any prospective reader looking for a new read in the horror genre won’t be similarly blown away by the novel. Indeed, by rights, Apparition should become yet another #1 bestseller for author Michaelbrent Collings.
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