Another great novel from Randolph Lalonde. I’ve read three completely different books from this author and every time I have been pleasantly surprised. I have read on another blog that Dark Arts is going to be part of a trilogy, so if you are a fan of this book the followups will hopefully be released soon.
If you have read Randolph Lalonde’s First Light Chronicles and/or Brightwill, Dark Arts may surprise you. Dark Arts is much more sinister, and in my opinion, it may suit a slightly older audience. I have to admit, I’ve been struggling to get into new novel’s for the last several weeks, but Dark Arts has brought me out of my little dip and I’m totally ready to take on my ever growing book pile!
I have to start with the main character, Maxwell. He is the lead guitarist of a band called ‘Road Craft’ and he tours around Canada and parts of the US with his band mates as they perform at various venues. However, life on the road has been tough and Maxwell and his band mates have never really caught their ‘lucky break’. To make matters worse, their style of music isn’t as popular as it used to be and the competition has robbed them of their potential venues. Therefore, in order to earn enough money to keep traveling on the road, Maxwell has been forced to dabble in his late father’s obsession, acquiring strange artifacts for wealthy clients. This leads us straight into the opening chapter… Dark Arts launches you into a fast-paced and alluring story line. You meet Maxwell, in the perhaps not so favorable circumstances, as he hunts down a Monk. Maxwell basically steals an artifact from the Monk with a good deal of violence, and this opening scene had me wondering whether Maxwell was going to be our good guy, bad guy, or maybe a mix of both?
After acquiring a certain artifact, Maxwell and his band mates return to his hometown Sudbury, where a) the client for the artifact is, b) two of his band mates, Scott and Bernie are childhood friends, who also grew up in Sudbury, and c) the band has decided to stop off in Sudbury for what is called ‘the Gathering’ before heading to their next and final gig.
As Maxwell rides into town on his motorbike, we learn about Maxwell’s father and Maxwell’s not-so-high opinion of him. His father, along with a number of Sudbury residents belong to some strange occult with strange beliefs. They have ‘Gatherings’ every once in a while, where they all meet up. Maxwell however, does not believe any of it and he clearly resents his father for his beliefs. Since his childhood friends and their families do believe, rather than isolate himself from it all, Maxwell just chooses to ignore it and get on with the more important things in his life.
We also learn about the second main character and Maxwell’s love interest, a young woman named Miranda, who Maxwell has not seen since childhood. Maxwell spots her in town as he rides to the client to get rid of his newly claimed artifact. Unfortunately things do not go to plan, the client refuses to pay for the artifact and seems completely terrified of it. Maxwell is forced to leave with the artifact, and bumping into Miranda for a second time (not so coincidental), he offers her a lift back to the Webbs Farm. The same place where his band is staying and where ‘the Gathering’ is taking place.
As the story progresses, the reader discovers a magical and spiritual world that Maxwell has been trying to avoid and ignore all his life. The artifact he has claimed is very powerful and draws the attention of evil spirits. Maxwell is forced into accepting and believing in the many things his father tried to teach him. Thanks to the artifact, Maxwell can see things he has never seen before and he has no option but to believe. He learns that the occult wanted him to have the artifact in order to stop it from falling into lesser hands, and he also learns that the occult have hidden many secrets from him, including their influence in keeping Miranda from him.
Maxwell reluctantly accepts his initiation into the occult, and with it he becomes a ‘Weaver’, a person who can destroy spirits or send them to the other side. The occult deem the artifact too dangerous to stay in one place, and Maxwell makes the decision to keep traveling with it on the road. Miranda and Maxwell, whose relationship builds up over the chapters, plan to travel together. However, things take a dreadful turn when one of Maxwell’s band mates ends up being possessed, this then leads to some gruesome scenes and a bloody murder. It is then a race against time to find a missing person and to destroy evil. If you’re ok with blood, guts and gore, then you’ll probably be able to stomach these paragraphs.
Dark Arts ends on a bit of a cliff-hanger, a shocking one really. I didn’t expect the ending at all, though that’s probably because I was secretly hoping for a Hollywood-style ending. I was very surprised at what happened to Miranda, though I have to say it was nicely done and realistic. I wish I could say more, but I’m afraid I’ve already given away far too much of the story. I will say though, Dark Arts is definitely one to read if you don’t mind ‘Dan Brown’ sort of gore. It is also more of a supernatural thriller, than a full-blown horror in my opinion. There is plenty of romance and the fantasy aspect errs towards religious tendencies and spiritual-type magic. It is well written and there are very few errors, in fact I can’t even remember any right now. The answers are revealed slowly throughout this story so keep going with it and don’t worry if you are confused for a while, everything becomes clearer in the end. On saying that, don’t expect all of your questions to be answered, like I’ve already mentioned, Dark Arts ends on a cliff-hanger.
All in all, thumbs up from me and thank you to Randolph Lalonde for writing some wonderful and superb fiction. I’m looking forward to seeing what you come up with next!
From The Current Reviews:
The Good: ‘An excellent read’, ‘very good, loved it‘, ‘This was a very interesting story that I would love to see expanded on even more than Randy did to create this book from the short story it was in the beginning‘, ‘Nice but short story. Liked it and will be following this writer!‘, ‘A new Randolph Lalonde novel for those who love a good spine chiller wrapped up in the world of 1976’, ‘A great read for the Halloween season, or anytime you’d like a little supernatural in your life!’, ‘The plot is well written and the characters are believable’, ‘Nice but short story. Liked it and will be following this writer!‘
The Bad: ‘Good. Not nearly as good as the First Light Chronicles. I can see where he has left openings for future stories, it didn’t grab me enough to be overly interested in them.’, ‘Uninteresting‘, ‘Yikes! Downloaded this for free from Barnes & Noble for something to read on my nook. Reading this made me wonder if there was a problem with the file or if they just don’t proof read things that are published in ebook format only. It was an ok story, although nothing too scary or complicated. Plus, the resolution of the story was a little too easy – I expected it to be scary, but it wasn’t really.‘
The Darn Right Ugly: None so far -C.L.
The Unicorns: ‘Characters that you love and some you hate. The can’t put it down plot doesn’t disappoint. Love juxtaposed with bloody murder. Read it and weep.’, ‘Once I started reading Dark Arts I couldn’t put it down. You really grow to care about the characters and what’s going to happen to them as they face evil from different, and some unexpected, directions.’, ‘The more you read about the characters, and their relationship to each other, the more you want to know. A fresh new novel in the Horror/Supernatural genre from top author Randolph Lalonde.’, ‘Best new Author of Fantasy, SciFi and horror I have read in over a decade.’
Release date: 17th August 2009
Age Range: 16+
Contains: Sexual references and gruesome violence, including bodily mutilation.
Genre(s): Fiction/ Horror/ Fantasy.
About The Book: Maxwell, a guitarist whose band is coming off the road under discouraging circumstances, has come to a crossroad. The minimal success his band, Road Craft, has had is being smothered by an era where bars are becoming discos, and live entertainment is being replaced by larger dance floors. They scored a small record deal years before, but the excitement has cooled, and they never got much radio play.
The only hope he has of financing his future rests in a book he hunted down using contacts and skills he learned from his father, who was an expert at acquiring rare occult objects. Max is not a believer in mysticism, but he knows what he has was hard to get, and should be worth thousands. When he’s told it’s too hot to sell, his dreams are crushed, and his wallet is left empty. He’ll have to tell his band mates that his plan has fallen through, and they have come to the end of the road.
The members of Road Craft are set to return home during a Pagan summer festival called The Gathering, where hundreds of people gather to celebrate music, nature, and each other. The Gathering also puts him nose to nose with Miranda, a woman Maxwell knew when they were children, a veteran of the New York Rock scene and his equal.
He doesn’t know it yet, but this is the event that will make him a believer in the occult, and he will have some choices to make. All the while, there are people who know he has the book, and they are determined to twist the knowledge it contains to a terrible purpose, to break the circle of life, making resurrections possible, to open the door between the living and the dead just enough to embrace forbidden power. Their selfish intent would disrupt the natural order enough to change the world, and not for the better.
Maxwell’s music career is about to be the least of his worries.
Amazon Kindle Rating: (4.5 Stars)
Goodreads Rating: (3.21 Stars)
He completed writing his first novel in the fantasy adventure genre at the age of fifteen and has been writing ever since.
He self published his first novel;
Fate Cycle: Sins of the Past in 2004 and after taking a break has begun to release his work again starting with the First Light Chronicles series.
Randolph Lalonde has sold thousands of eBooks to date, enough to keep writing full time. He is deeply grateful for his following of readers and strives to improve his skills to better entertain them. The Spinward Fringe Space Opera series has proven to be his most popular offering.
He currently resides in Sudbury Ontario and manages a chapter a day writing habit.
In his diminishing spare time he reads voraciously, tinkers with design, video editing and reviews the occasional film or television show. A science fiction and fantasy fan, he often comments on the state of the entertainment industry on his website.
Disclaimer: The reviews and opinions above are either from online sources or my own, and have been collaborated together for the ease and benefit of potential new readers. All ratings have been collected from the date of this blog’s publishing and will potentially change in the future.