Daniel I. Russell is the author of Entertaining Demons, Samhane, Retard, Come Into Darkness, Critique, The Collector Book 1: Mana Leak, Mother's Boys and the huge collection Tricks, Mischief and Mayhem. Daniel is a HWA active member and represented by the Tobias Literary Agency, NYC. Daniel has also been the vice-president of the Australian Horror Writers' Association, special guest editor of Midnight Echo, associate and technical editor for Necrotic Tissue, and Shadow Awards judge.
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Monday, July 02, 2018Review: Manifest Recall by Alan Baxter
My experience with Manifest Recall started at around 4am one morning last week, when something had awoken me in the early morning. Rather than head back to bed for a couple more hours disturbed rest, I settled on the sofa and booted this up on my Kindle.
I think I reached just shy of halfway as dawn started to emerge from underneath the blinds. That says something.
Baxter has me on the back foot here as I try to type my thoughts. I usually read straight horror (if you'll allow me to use this loose term), while Manifest Recall is a delicious slice of action-packed crime with a tasty horror sprinkling. I try to consider how elements are fit together, and whereas a hearty dose of gunfire and car chases might pick up the pace of a horror novel, they can detract from the sometimes subtle, nuanced atmosphere of a tale of terror. In Recall, the author flips this around, using horror elements to give the reader a break from the all out action, develop the character of our vigilante hero and provide some of the book's stand out images.
Keeping it vague as to not spoil some of the surprises, the protagonist of the book, Eli Carver, is haunted by his past: the dead, who sometime offer him advice, or mock him, depending on the situation. A certain classic scene in a London porno theatre springs to mind!
Staying with the darker elements of the story, Baxter has created a cracking villain in the shape of mobster Vernon Sykes. I initially pictured him as Vincent D'Onoffrio playing Kingpin in Daredevil, but this representation quickly paled once the full extent of his coldblooded deeds start to be drip fed to the reader. This character really surprised me, and the author made some ballsy choices...ones that make you sit up and really take notice of this read. As I often joke, I love a hard gut punch from a tale.
My only real quibble is that the transition from the second to third act is a little abrupt. The plot has developed nicely and at a perfect pace, but following a fortunate break in Eli's journey, we are suddenly thrown into a high-octane finale. The book had a beat to it, and it felt like perhaps a planned scene had been cut as the author was hungry to get to the all out conclusion. Maybe I'm being super picky, but there's not much else to bitch about.
I'm giving it 4.5/5 bullet-riddled limbs. My advice? Get it, read it, enjoy it...if you can keep up! Just click on the cover.
Have you read Manifest Recall? Let me know what you thought in the comments.