Lee F. Jordan

Black Rose Writing
Trade Paper, 294 pages, $18.95
Review by Sheila M. Merritt

Heinrich Himmler was a true life villain of epic proportions. As one of the highest ranking Nazis, Himmler was responsible for unspeakable atrocities during Hitler’s regime. In Coronation, Lee F. Jordan employs Himmler as a character. Jordan weaves other elements from history, especially famous nautical enigmas, into his ambitious horror novel. He uses the personages and events as a narrative springboard, and often successfully incorporates facts with fantasy. The extrapolations lose their potential power, however, when the in-your-face sequences of graphic violence dominate the story. There are times when the gore feels gratuitous. The thin line between vile and violent gets repeatedly crossed, and eventually the sanguinary immersion becomes prosaic. The shock value depreciates from overuse.

In addition to the overwrought descriptions of carnage, the yarn suffers from an all too common genre affliction: “The Lawrence of Arabia of Horror Syndrome.” This just coined term applies to dark fiction which is LARGE in scope. An evil entity isn’t merely assaulting a young girl and forcing her into unseemly acts with a crucifix. Indeed, if an apocalypse doesn’t figure into the tale, then it’s considered not worth telling. Back to the particulars of the novel at hand: the range is big and convoluted, which requires a very steady control of the plot. It is hard to be consistently enthralling when tackling so huge a project. Coronation has its share of hits-and-misses.

To distill the scenario in a few lines: The protagonist has psychic abilities that are coveted by powerful folk, both good and bad. He gets drawn into an investigation involving the bizarre deaths of twenty-four men aboard a submarine. This confounding occurrence turns out to be related to legendary historical maritime puzzles, such as The Mary Celeste mystery. With a nefarious puppet master pulling the strings of the dead, many people perish horribly; but the malevolent mastermind behind the bloody blitz uses the “break a few eggs to make an omelet” justification. Suffice to say, the culmination has major implications for the future of mankind.

Regarding the author’s prose, there are sections which denote verbal dexterity. Certainly this passage, describing a mural, paints a most unsettling picture: “Quivering depictions of back-alley moments of hunger bordering on lust by demons from another dimension. Women screaming in agony during violent child birthing sessions and being ripped into shreds by vengeful children. And across it all were a pair of hairy, beast-like arms stretching the width and breadth of the drawing from side to side and clasped together as if they were holding an infant in a loving embrace.”

Lee F. Jordan tackles a monster of a story line that isn’t for the squeamish. Coronation isn’t a crowning achievement; it’s rough around the edges, and could use a polish. Yet, despite the criticisms, the author displays creative aptitude. It will be interesting to see how his writing evolves.

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