AUTHOR: Edward Lorn
PUBLISHER: Red Adept Publishing
AVAILABILITY: Amazon US (paperback), Amazon US (Kindle e-book), Amazon UK (paperback), AmazonUK (Kindle e-book)
APPROXIMATE LENGTH: 242 pages
Recommended for fans psychological thrillers and chilling horror stories
Dastardly Bastard is the suspenseful tale of a tour group that finds the chasm they visit contains supernatural forces. Like many horror stories, it opens with ordinary people in an ordinary situation, and then the dangers start creeping in bit by bit, picking them off one by one. They discover the truth behind the mysteries as they struggle to fight back, all the while confronting disturbing memories and fearful ghosts. Familiar territory for fans of Stephen King and other such suspense writers.
Dastardly Bastard is a fast-paced suspense story that ends each chapter with an irresistible hook. I finished the book in two reading sessions, with the break in the middle being only due to that pesky thing called a day job.
Dastardly Bastard rotates between the close third perspectives of each of its principle characters, allowing the reader to view the story from many different angles. Chapter breaks indicate a change in perspective.
A photojournalist, a bestselling author, a pair of young lovebirds, a widow and her son. These are the people who make up the tour group bound for Waverly Chasm, led by tour guide Jaleel. The chasm is a stunning natural formation with a quirky poem describing the legend surrounding it: “The Dastardly Bastard of Waverly Chasm / Does gleefully scheme of malevolent things…”
Who this “Dastardly Bastard” is and what “malevolent things” of which he schemes are remain a mystery for the majority of the novel. What starts out as an ordinary hiking tour soon to horror as the supernatural begins taking over. The group finds themselves trapped by unexplained happenings—possessions, disappearances, paranormal phenomena—and forced to confront their most devastating and horrible memories. What is real and what is imagined become blurred, and the characters must confront the evil of the mysterious force known as the Dastardly Bastard if they are to survive.
Lorn’s talent for suspense and snappy writing style make Dastardly Bastard a difficult book to put down. Through his descriptions and clever plotting, he creates a story that’s easy to get lost in. Who is the Dastardly Bastard? What does he want? How can the characters, mere mortals to his supernatural power, fight back? Why did he choose to attack them when so many other tour groups have passed Waverly Chasm in peace?
On top of that, each point of view character is fully developed, and so one really cares about what becomes of them. Lorn opens his novel with an introductory chapter for each, allowing the reader to get to know these people before they’re thrown into the chasm’s horrors. The third person narration of each point of view character’s chapter adjusts to reflect that particular character’s unique traits. For instance, morbidly obese photographer Mark is written with a tongue-in-cheek attitude that reflects the character’s attitude toward himself. Donald, the vertically challenged author, exudes bitterness and a witty bad attitude, shields against years of abuse. Widow Marsha, meanwhile, is written in a forlorn and sympathetic manner.
And then there’s Justine, who came on this tour to humor her boyfriend. From the moment she’s introduced, one realizes that there’s something… special… about her. She appears to be an ordinary, if someone sassy, girl. It’s soon revealed that she has a strange connection to the supernatural. “Throwing shadows,” as she calls it. What these shadows are and what they mean is integrally related to the Dastardly Bastard. Meanwhile, she experiences visions of her deceased grandmother, Nana Penance, a spunky old woman who sometimes seems to be Justine’s guide and salvation and other times a tormentor.
Each character comes alive on the page, and each has his or her mettle tested as he or she faces off with the shadows of the past. In a way, Dastardly Bastard is as much a character study as a horror novel. I couldn’t help sensing a message behind the thrills, a message about how much the past can haunt you, consume you, if you let it fester.
Dastardly Bastard presents an interesting twist on the horror genre, unashamed to play on its conventions and unafraid to bend them to its own purposes. No one can come out of Waverly Chasm unscathed, if indeed they come out at all. That includes the reader. Whether it’s because of the chills and frights—dark specters and phenomena that shame Final Destination—or the poignant character moments in between, Dastardly Bastard is a book to remember.
THE NITPICKY STUFF
This book is impeccably edited, and I did not find any errors.
This book, being a horror novel, contains a lot of scenes that some might find disturbing—undead people, violent imagery, and the like. However, there is nothing gratuitous about the gruesome parts.
[from the back of the book]
Edward Lorn is an American horror author presently residing somewhere in the southeast United States. He enjoys storytelling, reading, and writing biographies in the third person.
Disclosure: Red Adept Publishing is also the publisher of my own novel, Artificial Absolutes. I bought and read this book on my own, and the above reflects only my honest opinion.