Sunday, February 12, 2012

Berserk by Tim Lebbon

Overview;  Tom and Jo lost their only son while he was serving in the Army.  After ten years their son’s death is still as painful as ever.  While at a local bar, Tom hears whispers of an Army cover up relating to his son’s death.   Needing to know the truth Tom searches for a rumored mass grave. In the grave he finds the body of a little girl among the decaying corpses, and she speaks to him.   

“Quiet, still waiting.  Her presence was like a hollow in his mind that he had never noticed before, a place begging to be filled.”   

Tim Lebbon’s Berserk quickly establishes a bleak tone with tinge of hope.  This allows his story to unfold at an incredible pace.  The story is well layered and the characters are all fully developed beings, not merely the movers of plot.  The sequence of Tom digging in the mass grave in a rain storm and sorting the body parts looking for signs of his son is unquestionably one of the strongest I have read in quite awhile.  It is the type of sequence I will always remember, even as other details of the book fade.  
One of the book’s strengths in Tom, who is so clear in purpose and expertly set against a series of shadier characters.  While the reader questions the motives of the little girl’s corpse as well as the soldier Cole, investigating the grave’s disturbance, Tom is constant and straightforward in purpose, despite anything that occurs around him. This helps the reader delve into a deep and mysterious story without becoming lost.  The characters around Tom have an intriguing moral ambiguity he does not share. 
The clearly written actions sequences in the novel are a refreshing change from grand heroics, and have a sense of plausibility that helps ground this story of supernatural horror.  Tim Lebbon communicates intricate series of movement that can be followed breathlessly.  I especially enjoyed a few old fashioned fisticuff sequences.   
Aside from some excessive flashbacks, Tim Lebbon’s Berserk is an emotionally rich horror novel. 

In the End;  Tom’s journey in Tim Lebbon’s Berserk is grounded in parental compassion and a well developed sense of loss.  Tom provides a strong emotional core, giving greater weight to the events that unfold around him.  I strongly recommend this book to anyone searching for an emotionally rich unique horror tale.  

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