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jenn

Murder by Death

I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.

Prince of Darkness

Prince of Darkness - Barbara Michaels

The below is not a spoiler, just not pertinent to anyone who is looking strictly for a review of the book:

 

Tuesday night, I started in on a buddy read I'm doing with Moonlight Reader and Linda Hilton and got a chapter or two in before falling asleep, believing I was on the backside of this awful head cold.  I woke up yesterday so sick; I can't remember the last time a cold has laid me out so completely flat.  When I was finally able to hold my head up for more than 15 minutes at a time yesterday afternoon, I honestly couldn't hold up my hardcover edition of Houses of Stone.  So, instead, needing something for my Classic Horror square and having decided to use a Wild Card, I picked up Prince of Darkness, a nice mass market paperback I picked up on holiday that has been so well used by its previous owner that I wouldn't feel bad if I passed out with it in bed with me.

(show spoiler)

 

Boy, is this completely different from any of the Barbara Michaels books I've read so far.  Structured differently, and written with a tad more sophistication than a lot of her other romantic suspense books.  Just a tad, though at first I thought I was in for something more on a level with Whitney's works.  I'm sort of glad it wasn't, really, because otherwise this book would have scared the hell out of me.  Instead, it was just fun, with a bit of non-visceral horror at the end.  It feels like Michaels might have been taking a popular trope at the time and turning it on its side, showing it from a different perspective.

 

The book is structured in three parts, meant to mimic metaphorically, a traditional Fox Hunt.  The Meet, The Huntsman, and The Quarry.  Of course, the reader is supposed to suspect the Huntsman at every turn and bemoan the weakness of The Quarry.  All I'll say about any of it is that, while I definitely suspected one facet, there were many that were unexpected on their revelation.  

 

Michaels ratchets up the suspense from page one, to the point that it feels the pages themselves might snap from the tension; it's only when things come to a crisis that the book fails, just a little bit, to deliver what could have been a more explosive resolution.  Mind you, it was still a good ending, and I don't know how such explosiveness might have been achieved, only that for the amount of tension built up, the release of it was slow and measured.  Horrifying in its way, but not detrimental to anyone's pulse.

 

I read this for Halloween Bingo, using it as my official Wild Card for the Classic Horror Square.  It's not a classic, but the horror bit was closer to the mark than I expected.