When Jake Harker's mother is killed in mysterious circumstances, his memory of what happened is strangely murky. He soon realises that someone doesn't want him to remember - someone connected with the shady Hobarron Institute.
But memories break through of that night - memories of a pale man, a demon, and a weapon his mother was working on at the Institute.
A weapon to stop the Demontide...
It's clear from reading Dawn of the Demontide that when it comes to dark fantasy, author William Hussey has done his homework. The first instalment of his Witchfinder trilogy is rich in lore and mythology, lending an impressive air of authenticity to proceedings from the very first page. This knowledge is mirrored in main character Jake Harker, a loner and avid reader of comics who possesses a 'dark catalogue' of horror in the recesses of his mind.
The beauty of Dawn of the Demontide is that although there's a certain familiarity to many of the ideas that Hussey employs, they're woven together in fresh and unexpected ways. So when the story takes Jake to Hobarron's Hollow, the insular coastal village where his father grew up, we get world-building to rival the Harry Potter novels but with all the sinister and foreboding atmosphere of The Wicker Man. This is also a story that has its roots in the darker side of UK history, as Jake uncovers secrets about the Hobarron Institute which stem back to the days of the Witchfinder General and ritual burnings at the stake.
Alongside this undercurrent of malice, William Hussey spins a story of demons and witchcraft that's just about as twisty as can be. Every time you think you know where the story is headed, Hussey throws a major curveball that sends the action off in an unforeseen and intriguing direction. Being a girly type I couldn't help hoping for more from the hint of romance between Jake and his schoolmate Rachel Saxby. However, this didn't impair my enjoyment of the story at all. The plot races along, culminating in a major revelation about Jake's destiny that will definitely have me coming back for more when the second instalment hits bookstore shelves in 2011.
Dawn of the Demontide is a compelling and atmospheric start to the Witchfinder trilogy. William Hussey has created a world where any type of monster, mythical creature or twisted technology could well be a reality, and where magic can be pure... or pure evil. This one's dangerous, a little bit gory, and a definite must for those who like their fantasy novels dark.
Out: March 4th 2010, UK
Check out the awesome Witchfinder website here, and the seriously chilling trailer below.
Thanks to Galactus for sending me a review copy of this book.