Saturday, January 2, 2016

The Island By Clarissa Johal: A Review

paranormal, gothic horror, and fantasy books

     This book, roughly two-hundred and ten pages of paranormal horror, is a book that is suitable for young teenage readers all the way up to adults. There is very little in the way of swearing or gore, and almost no adult themes to speak of (other than murder). The basic premise is a typical protagonist inherits a haunted home and goes to renovate. Only, in this case, the home is on an island that the locals believe to be haunted or cursed. The protagonist, Emma, is a young adult that is going to the home of grandmother, Fae, after several months of being missing to pack up her home and make note of what needs to be taken into account for her father to fix up before selling the estate. The home is a log cabin that has electricity (sometimes) and old furnishings, along with bells and bowls of salt water underneath windows.
     Odd, but then again Fae was an odd woman. Emma never got along with her grandmother, who would send her home early to her father whenever she visited.
     Soon, Emma begins to sense the otherworldly beings living on the island, two dark souls that go by Itu and Thim. Itu, a long-haired muscled man with a pouch around his neck, and Thim, an albino human with nearly translucent features, both seem intent on causing Emma grief and fear for as long as they can.
     I won't ruin the story any more than I already have, but suffice it to say that the story is pretty good. The many pitfalls that horror novels have, such as sudden boiling-over of suspense or nasty bouts of gore or sex, are dodged by Johal's work. The suspense is set to a low simmer that rises in the heat before dimming towards the second third of the novel. Towards the climate she turns the heat up and allows the theoretical pot to boil over, making the last ten to fifteen pages impossible to turn away from.
     I know I couldn't.
     The main characters have rich backgrounds while the secondary characters have a few pieces of history or charm that make them noteworthy. The tertiary characters (a professor and a woman who knows of the islands history) have unique characteristics each that make them seem alive rather than flat plot devices.
     Just ask Mr. Bones.
     Symbolism is used as an ironical knife-to-the-ribs to the two demons, Without spoiling the novel, it explains itself early on if you pay attention, allowing you to guess the nature of the demons early on if you are astute enough. I was able to guess both monster's methods of madness, but only after Thim revealed his secret powers. Itu is easy to guess if one gives him some thought.
     On the fact of the two demons, I've never really encountered creatures like them. I've written stories with similar creatures, but nothing where the demons were so... human. Demons to most are acerbic monsters, more beast than man; or they happen to be possessing forces that inhabit bodies and torture good souls while forcing their loved ones to seek out an exorcist.
     All I can say is I understand how this became a number one bestseller on Amazon for a time. While it certainly has flaws with timing issues in certain scenes and the pacing is kind of slow at first, by chapter fifteen (and the chapters are short) you're invested in the novel enough that you care about not only Emma but about the two demons in a twisted sort of way.
     If you only get to read a novel every blue moon, I would definitely suggest this to be the one to read.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the review!! I'm glad you enjoyed the novel :)