The Ascension
Michael G. Cornelius

Paperback: 244 pages
Publisher: Breakneck Books (March 30, 2007)
Reviewed by Rick Spearman

Michael G. Cornelius, author of the award wining novel Creating Man, is back with his latest novel from Breakneck Books. The Ascension is well crafted with believable characters, and riveting action with a twisting plot. Cornelius combines religion, horror, and occasional humor, in just the right mix leading the story into an apocalyptic struggle between good and evil.

Detective Caldwell Evans, a recovering alcoholic, guilt ridden from the crib death of his infant daughter, is released early from rehab to take part in a murder investigation. He is flawed like all of the characters in this novel, and he reacts to situations with the emotions and actions that a reader would expect. The author takes the same attention to detail and description with each character, even if they are only in the novel for a few pages.

Detective Evans and ATF agent Velvet Rabinowitz investigate the ritualistic murders of local religious leaders, including a butchered Bishop, a mutilated Methodist and an entire congregation of sliced and diced Seventh Day Adventists. The investigation leads to a group of black robed, members of an ancient snake handling cult that can strike at any time and appear to be invincible. Cal and Velvet are aided by a comical graduate student Abe Ruth, and a mysterious Catholic priest named Father Padua.

As the novel nears the end, the odds against them stopping the ancient rite mount. Tension builds to a fever pitch as the ability to guess where the author is leading becomes blurred, and the end for all mankind looks inevitable.

Overall, Cornelius proves that religious themed horror does not have to be stripped of the humanity and emotion that makes characters more than just a flock of sheep waiting for the hand of God to pluck them safely from harms way, and delivers a story that keeps the reader on edge from start to finish.

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