Rating: 3.75 stars
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At first, I truly was not sure to make of this current offering by Damon Suede, entitled Horngate. It was…decidedly different from the past novel I had read by this author. However, different can often be a whole lot of fun. And, in a word, that is what Horngate was, dark, but, yes, a bit fun.
It is perhaps a misnomer to talk about a demon infused story, full of dark moments and a bit of violence, as light, but it was the writing that made it feel that way. The premise of the story deals with what can best be described as a loser. Our unlikely hero, Isaac, is an overweight, acne-plagued librarian that deals in antiquities and rare texts. As the story opens, he is about to celebrate his 22nd birthday by stealing an invite to an exclusive sex lounge called Gehenna from one of his coworkers.
After finding the place, this young man, who deftly avoids touching almost anyone due to his phobia, ends up finding his way to the basement level of the strange establishment, only to find an erotically beautiful creature caged in a small, dark room. Losing himself in the moment, he touches what he believes to be either an addict or a prostitute who insists on calling Isaac, Dreamer.
The next full thought Isaac has happens the following morning and oh how things have changed. Suffice it to say that the few moments of sexual fulfillment he found with the creature in the basement have irrevocably refashioned Isaac for good, dramatically changing his outward appearance and giving him an unearthly sexual appeal to both men and women.
However, with the finding of an ancient text that holds the key to where the mysterious creature named Scratch was to be sent (for you see Scratch was being held against his will by an evil man who was determined to send Scratch back to hell from where he came), life for Isaac turns upside down. In a brave attempt to help Scratch, Isaac wounds the man but is still unable to free him. Now Isaac finds himself in a race against time too not only decipher the text but to reunite with Scratch and free him once and for all.
For a relatively short novel, this book was jam packed with information. The framework for created worlds, heaps of Jewish lore and history, and new kinds of creatures are all there. At times, however, the story line is a bit weighed down by all the lore. I found myself wanting Suede to move on, to get back to Isaac and Scratch. I understand that authors who might anticipate a sequel or series have a great deal of set up that needs to occur but I felt, at times, that deeper characterization was sacrificed for what seemed like lots of facts and information.
However, the story itself was exciting and fun to read. This author is a good writer and he keeps us entertained the entire time. This was paranormal fantasy all the way and worth a look at, particularly if you enjoy the genre.