With Halloween edging ever closer, I figured it high time I read something appropriate for this special time of year. Tarn Richardson’s Darkest Hand trilogy gets off to a fantastic start with this, the opening novel, The Damned. It is a novel bursting with memorable scenes, realistic dialogue, great characters and bloody lycanthropic action! I really enjoyed reading this first installment.
When starting a new novel a strong beginning is essential. The reader needs to be dragged in, given glimpses of the journey ahead. Richardson delivers in spades. I was hooked right from the first chapter. The opening chapters see the horror of the Great war brought to life in an exciting beginning that features scenes of absolute horror. And, from then on in the pacing is very good, barely letting up. There are two timelines running through the story and though I am not usually a huge fan of this style, here I was invested equally in the fates of both. I loved the intrigue surrounding the Vatican and the Big Brother stylings of the Catholic Church. The wolf attacks are brutal, as brutal as you will read anywhere else. I’m talking spilled organs, heads removed, limbs torn off…it’s great stuff!
At the centre of The Damned stands Poldek Tacit. Tacit is an inquisitor, a Catholic 007, a fixer if you like. Here is a man with a short fuse, an abrupt chap with a difficult personality. He likes a drink, and often lets his fists do the talking. This isn’t to say that Tacit is simply a Jack Reacher clone. On the contrary, Richardson has created a well-developed, intriguing character that opens himself up as the story progresses. Yes, he can be a little difficult to like early on in the book, but your patience will be rewarded. As his friendships develop so to do further layers of his personality. I certainly believe that a novel of this length needs and deserves a strong lead, and in Poldek Tacit, you certainly get that, however, the Inquisitor isn’t the only character that deserves mention. Sister Isabella, Tacit’s assessor and reluctant partner and Major Henry Frost also shine and are given their time to blossom in a novel that doesn’t treat them as secondary characters.
If you enjoy dark novels with strong characterisation and thrilling plots then The Damned is perfect reading for this time of year, in fact, it is perfect reading for any time of the year. The book comes across as very well researched and there is such great depth to the story. Richardson’s writing is strong, descriptive, but never overly so and I’m looking forward to more from Poldek Tacit in the next two books in the series.
5/5 full moons from the Grim Reader.
Pick up a copy from here.
Check out an interview I did with Tarn here.
And, check out this excellent guest post. I am sure it will whet the appetite for the books