Monday, August 6, 2012

Book Review: Bottled Abyss by Benjamin Kane Ethridge

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This is one finely crafted and exhilarating novel. This was my introduction to Ethridge and if this is indicative of his work I will be reading it all. I could not put this one down, and finished it in three sittings.

It is difficult to tell you what is great about this novel without giving too much away. The titular bottle comes into the possession of Herman. The magical water within saves his dog but also releases a strange coin into the world, disrupting the balance between our world and The Underworld. The future of the River to the Underworld, its Ferryman, and other other-wordly creatures is uncertain, as are those of the humans in Herman’s life.

To say more would spoil Ethridge’s hard work, weaving an unpredictable plot that never slows down. He creates his own mythology and it all works out in the end, unlike many lesser horror novels on the same subject. No head scratching, wondering how certain events are possible, since the author lays the foundation for the supernatural early on.

While there are plenty of supernatural goings-on, and dark fantasy and frights along the way, this novel is rooted in solid three dimensional characters and their human flaws and motivations propel forward much of the action. This is what makes it a page turner—you care about the tragedies the characters are working through and relate to their fateful decisions.

As already stated, the novel is not predictable. Ethridge’s skillful POV technique led to one huge surprise for me, as to who the main character was going to be. The ending, while worked out logically, was not exactly what I had guessed either. These are feats considering the number of horror novels I have read.

I highly recommend this novel from an author who has already won one Stoker award, and may be on his way to another here.

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