WARNING – There may be spoilers.
Daniel Russell’s Samhane tells the story of Brian Rathbone, self-trained monster hunter, who is a single father raising a son. It also tells the story of Donald Patterson, a middle of the road kind of guy who works in a lab. Brian came to monster hunting after his wife was killed in an attic by an imp, and Donald finds himself trapped in a shadowy underworld of the paranormal after he buys a laptop that contains snuff footage. Both men travel to the small town of Samhane in England—-one to catch monsters, the other to save his kidnapped fiancé from a strange cult.
There are a lot of cool elements to this debut novel by Daniel Russell, with some definite creepy scenes, and I really wanted to like this book. However, it ultimately read as way too paint by numbers for me. While there were scenes where I was genuinely creeped out (when Donald is walking up the drive to Orchard House; when the road comes alive), in most instances, I could tell exactly where the author was going. For instance, when the teenagers head out to the woods, I predicted exactly which teenagers would die (of course, these were the ones that almost had sex). And I generally knew which character would be spared and which would not. This really killed the suspense factor for me. There was no mounting tension—just a lot of cool monsters and cool scenes (kudos to Daniel on the creepy spider-doctor)—but every time I expected the author to zag, he did just that. It made it hard to sympathize with any of the characters, feel any real compassion for them, because I knew who was safe and who wasn’t. I also predicted who Mr. Belvedere was the moment I met the elderly mayor.
All in all, a fun read, but I wish the author had packed it with more surprises-—wish he would’ve zigged a little more often when I saw the zag coming. One of the best characters in the book, for me, was Walter, because I really didn’t see the revelation coming about his character. It gave him depth and a wonderful personality struggle.
If you’re looking for a fun read, check out Samhane. Just don’t expect any surprises.