Hello bookworm, have you been waiting long? I’m sorry I didn’t hear you knocking; I was in a world of my own there while I was dusting the bookshelves and trying to ignore the squabbling. It’s always the same: The classics genre seem to think a bit of dust adds a degree of gravitas to their midst and berate me for removing it; whilst the modern, minimalist-living books are a fastidious bunch who would have me dust morning, noon and night if they could, reminding me frequently that I’m overdue a decluttering exercise. It doesn’t look too messy in here, does it? If they think this place is dusty, they should see some of the settings in a book I’ve just finished called The Dark Chorus by Ashley Meggitt. Here, why don’t you sit down with a coffee and a slice of gingerbread while I tell you all about it.
Here’s the blurb: The Dark Chorus. Oblivio salvationem Angelis opperitur. Oblivion awaits the Angel’s salvation.
The Boy can see lost souls.
He has never questioned the fact that he can see them. He thinks of them as the Dark Chorus. When he sets out to restore the soul of his dead mother it becomes clear that his ability comes from within him. It is a force that he cannot ignore – the last shard of the shattered soul of an angel.
To be restored to the kingdom of light, the shard must be cleansed of the evil that infects it – but this requires the corrupt souls of the living!
With the help from Makka, a psychotically violent young man full of hate, and Vee, an abused young woman full of pain, the Boy begins to kill.
Psychiatrist Dr Eve Rhodes is seconded to assist the police investigation into the Boy’s apparently random ritualistic killings. As the investigation gathers pace, a pattern emerges. When Eve pulls at the thread from an article in an old psychology journal, what might otherwise have seemed to her a terrible psychotic delusion now feels all too real…
Will the Boy succeed in restoring the angel’s soul to the light? Can Eve stop him, or will she be lost to the realm of the Dark Chorus?
Here’s a little about the author: Ashley Meggitt lives near Cambridge, UK, with his wife Jane. He left school to join a psychedelic rock band when he realised that sex, drugs, and rock and roll was a thing. Subsequently he went back to education and became head of IT for a Cambridge University College. In recent years Ashley has retrained in psychology and is now an associate lecturer in sports psychology. He is studying for his PhD. He also holds an MA in Creative Writing. The Dark Chorus is his debut novel.
Here’s my review: I must confess to having a bit of an internal struggle whilst reading The Dark Chorus. Here’s a boy who, if his actions were to be reported in the media, would be presumed to be deeply disturbed and, quite frankly, evil. This is a child after all who, shortly after we meet him, leads a woman to the home he has made in the abandoned asylum of his birth, and attempts to funnel his dead mother’s soul into the unsuspecting victim’s body. Then kills her when his attempt is unsuccessful. Not to mention, he kills and beheads tiny birds as part of the ritual.
When interviewed by the police, and psychiatrist Dr Eve Rhodes, he appears completely remorseless. When he is sent to a detention centre filled with violent, juvenile criminals, he seems detached and unafraid. What I’m getting at is, The Boy shouldn’t be someone who I would want to root for.
And yet, I did.
When The Boy meets Makka, a bond is formed between these outsiders and for the first time in his life, The Boy feels a connection with someone (other than his dead mother’s soul). The bond is strengthened when Makka saves The Boy from a vile, abusive act, resulting in a vengeful killing and a message left in chalk for Dr Eve before their escape.
The violence is graphic, and the reader is left with nowhere to hide as the true horrors of the world inhabited by the boys, and later Vee, is revealed. The killings escalate as The Boy hones his craft of feeding dark souls to the Fallen Angel and the trio seek revenge on those responsible for the pain weighing down Makka and Vee.
I really shouldn’t have wanted them to succeed, especially as the deaths were excruciating and horrifying. However, the acts these people committed were excruciating and horrifying too. The Boy is able to see into these people, see whether there is any hint of humanity left, and severs the souls of those with the blackest of cores. An eye for an eye.
The teenagers’ characters are dark but have a vulnerability, even if they would not want anyone to witness it. They have learned that they can trust nobody, but gradually learn to trust each other. It’s the closest thing to love they have experienced and, despite their own destructive acts, the mother in me wanted to comfort them.
The police investigation is plot rather than procedurally driven, but that works perfectly for this story. Task force meetings and lengthy autopsy scenes would have felt out of place and added nothing in my opinion. Eve’s place on the investigation team leads to her feeling conflicted between wanting to stop The Boy, and wanting him to succeed in his self-appointed mission, which adds to the reader’s sense of turmoil.
The imagery presented by the author fired my imagination so, as I read, I felt immersed in crypts, derelict buildings and squalor. I raced through the novel, with a desperate need to see what was down each next dark alley, until the final confrontation allowed me a sense of being released.
Not for the faint-hearted but I’d recommend this for fans of dark thrillers and horror fiction, and anyone who enjoyed the Dexter books or series for that anti-hero fix. A strong 4 star rating from me.
If you would like to purchase a copy of this book for yourself, just click on the book image to go to the relevant page on Amazon. I don’t receive anything for providing the link, I’m just being a helpful bookworm. Thank you to the author, Darkstroke Books and Rachel’s Random Resources for the digital copy of this thriller in return for my honest opinion.
Well bookworm, it’s been lovely chatting to you but I must return to my dusting. And I think I will do a little decluttering since I’ve heard so much nagging about it this morning. Starting with the modern minimalist-living books… Farewell, bookworm!