Wakening the Crow by Stephen Gregory

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Does it steer close to the kind of macabre horror Poe is known for? Well, it starts off with good intentions but flounders towards the end. Gregory seems to be trying to lead with two story-lines at once.

First the creepy Poe cursed tooth one, and then the family dynamic of the main character and his guilt. Pick one and go with it. You want to mess the borders between good, bad, evil and downright creepy as hell? Then do so with abandon and a little less of the dilly dallying.

There were some other issues that distracted from the Poe-esqueness of it all. Yes, I totally made that word up. The first being the strange meanderings of paedophilia both in thoughts and accusations. Sentences like ‘a cherub with baby tits’ leave an uncomfortable after-taste.

What was the point? Unless the guilt inside him has come from that core issue or the evil he is experiencing is his own lack of acceptance, hence  the disgust at his hidden desires. Then perhaps it would have made more sense, as it is it just seemed to be a touch one too many times in the wrong direction. Pardon the pun.

The second issue was the constant need for the main character to be utterly and completely naked in the majority of scenes. Who wanders round in sooty, dusty attics and book-stores with their crown jewels dangling in the wind? Who thinks it is appropriate to be completely naked with their also completely naked young daughter in the middle of the night?

Again, if the idea was to have the main character fight an internal yet subconscious battle with the idea of his own paedophilia it makes sense. The desire to be unclothed indicating his inappropriate desire for her, for instance. If not then all that nakedness makes no sense and is merely gratuitous.

Gregory appears to have an aptitude for Gothic horror and a love of Poe, however the plot needs to tighter, as does the clarity of the plot.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

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