Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Lovecraftian fiction; book review "The Burning Time" by J.G. Faherty

The Burning Time review
Author: J.G. Faherty
4 out of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Horror; Lovecraftian Fiction; Cthulhuian mythos
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: Fans of Lovecraft, horror, Cthulhu
Book Available: January 19, 2013
Trigger Warnings: Really? Lovecraftian fiction; do I really need to say any more? Okay, details: rape, murder, defilement of all that is right, dawning of the darkness, demons, creatures of the Elder Gods... Need I really go on? Not for the faint of heart.
Animal abuse: implied goat sacrifice, two single-sentence cat injuries with implication that they would probably end up dead. However, several dogs have their revenge, including a toe-chewing Chihuahua.

Disclosure: I was asked by the author to read and review this book prior to the publication date, and provided an ARC for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis: An ancient evil has come to Hastings Mills, and only one man can stop it.

Wherever The Stranger goes, evil follows. Wild dogs roam the fields. Townspeople turn on each other in murderous fury. Innocent women throw themselves off bridges. Swimmers disappear, victims of a deadly beast that haunts their waters. And the worst is still yet to come. The Stranger plans to open a gateway to the nether realms and release the Elder Gods to bring forth Chaos on Earth.

Only one man knows the truth, a country mage whose family has fought The Stranger before. But can he defeat his ageless enemy before Hastings Mills is nothing but a smoking ruin and the townspeople become unwilling blood sacrifices to the Old Ones? With only the help of a young woman and her teenage son, he will have to use all of his arcane knowledge to thwart his adversary and prevent the final apocalypse.

In Hastings Mills, The Burning Time has arrived.

My Thoughts: I had meant to read and review this book last weekend, but I completely lost track of time and forgot. However, I am managing the review prior to publication, so all is still well... This is the second J.G. Faherty book I’ve read, following Cemetery Club, which I read and reviewed in December of 2011 after winning it through LibraryThing Early Reviewers (and you can see my review here if you’re reading this review on one of the few sites that allows formatting with HTML).

This is a seriously creepy story, strongly Lovecraftian and directly referencing the Elder Gods on several occasions, R’lyeh, even Cthulhu and Shub-Nggurath. Which especially startled me during the Reverend’s sermons, not to mention that fact that not a single townsperson thought it totally strange that their Reverend was talking about “Gods” and “the Ancients” and such. If a preacher, pastor or priest in my tiny, little hometown had started talking like that, he’d probably have been tarred, feathered, and run out on a rail. Just sayin’, it seemed a little weird that only John Root (and Mitch) seemed to have noticed that...

There were a couple of other weird inconsistencies that were more than a little confusing. First of all, Christian was a “Reverend” and emphatically denied being a priest. Despite the name of the church, Our Lady of Perpetual Hope, that tells me this was not a Catholic church of which he was the head. Therefore, he could not have been officiating at a Mass. (Note: my husband has pointed out he believes that both Episcopalians and Anglicans do, indeed, celebrate Mass under a Reverend. So take my concerns with a grain of salt on this matter.) Then there was the situation with the snakes when John Root saves Mitch from a beating—they are described as green, but later Root says they were cottonmouth. Cottonmouths are emphatically not green; I’ve seen one up-close-and-personal like (I’m talking about from less than a foot away, when it was twined up on a road sign across the way, and I, being the person I am, said, “Cool!” and walked right up to take a good look at it), and from even a short distance they look black. When you’re very close, however, you can see they have a very subtle pattern, which is really quite lovely, but they are not—I repeat—green.

As I mentioned, I’m originally from a small town, so to me the creepiest aspect of this book was how the normal exclusionary, us-versus-them attitude of a small town is exaggerated and perverted by the Stranger to create overt suspiciousness. I could so see that happening, and so easily, even in the larger area where I live now. People have a distressing tendency to believe the worst about other people in too many instances. At any rate, other than the supernatural aspects, the sheer, horrifying plausibility of the whole thing is what really freaked me out.

However, it also horribly misrepresented the Trickster. While it is true the Trickster causes chaos, it is never evil; there is always a reason, a greater good, for the mischief the Trickster causes. This is often quite misunderstood by cultures in which a Trickster is not a normal part of the pantheon or culture, which probably explains the use of Trickster as a scapegoat in this story. John’s musings that Chaos is an integral part of nature is absolutely true, and what the Stranger represents is not truly Chaos, but Evil, and despite what this book would lead one to expect, there is a difference.

Taking into account that this is an ARC, I will assume that most of the typos will be fixed, especially the consistent misuse of the word “tomb” where, based on the context the word referring to a large book, the meaning is clearly “tome.” There are also several instances of “where” and “were” being mixed up, but this is fairly common and will hopefully have been caught before the book’s release.

The “undated Southern myth” that is quoted before each part of the book sounded eerily familiar to me. I finally figured it out: it is very similar to the song by Credence Clearwater Revival called “The Old Man Down the Road.” I imagine this song strongly influenced this book, but only the author can confirm that.

Despite any problems I may have mentioned, I enjoyed this book. This is top-notch horror, freakishly plausible and terrifying for that exact reason. If you enjoy horror, if you are a fan of Lovecraft, and have been looking for a new chapter in Cthulhuian mythos, don’t hesitate to grab this one as soon as it is available.


  1. Interesting stuff. I am currently promoting Kindle All-Stars 2, but I would be happy to meet Mr. Faherty after that promotion has run its course.

    1. I just put up a guest post from him, and will be holding a giveaway for this book on Monday, so check that out! Thanks for commenting.


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