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Black & Orange Perfect Paperback – 2010
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The Amazon Book Review
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Forget everything you know about Halloween. The stories are distortions. They were created to keep the Church of Midnight hidden from the world. Every October 31st a gateway opens to a hostile land of sacrificial magic and chaos. Since the beginning of civilization the Church of Midnight has attempted to open the gateway and unite with its other half, the Church of Morning. Each year they’ve come closer, waiting for the ideal sacrifice to open the gateway permanently. This year that sacrifice has come. And only two can protect it. Martin and Teresa are the nomads, battle-hardened people who lack identity and are forever road-bound on an endless mission to guard the sacrifice. Their only direction is from notes left from a mysterious person called the Messenger. Endowed with a strange telekinetic power, the nomads will use everything at their disposal to make it through the night alive. But matters have become even more complicated this year. Teresa has quickly lost ground battling cancer, while Martin has spiraled into a panic over being left alone. His mind may no longer be on the fight when it matters most... because ever on their heels is the insidious physical representation of a united church: Chaplain Cloth.
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My main issue is that, although I think it is a good thing to throw the reader right into the middle of a story and make them think on their feet, this novel left me often checking if I'd missed the first book in a series. It threw me right in what felt like the middle of a plot with characters that I didn't feel I had time to care about one way or the other. The result was I didn't get drawn in to any of them enough to carry me to the end and felt myself struggling to make it to the final conflict.
Still worth reading for the brilliant new horror ideas throughout the novel - just hope his next book focuses just a tad more on any form of exposition and getting the reader to identify even remotely with key characters.
Each Halloween there is a temporary opening between worlds and there are forces at work to make the opening permanent and another group whose goal it is to keep it closed.
To keep the portal closed is the job of two Nomads assigned to protect that year's Heart of the Harvest. If they fail and the Heart is captured then the opening between worlds grows closer to permanence. On the other hand, if the Heart is protected, the Church of Midnight must wait until next Halloween before trying again.
In order to assist in protecting the Heart of the Harvest, the Nomads are endowed with magical powers, specifically, the ability to create mantles, I think of these as magical apps.
Opposing them are members of The Church of Midnight. In addition to trying to locate the Heart of the Harvest, there is a good deal of in-fighting amongst the Bishops of the church. One of my favorite lines in the book concerns newly appointed Bishop Paul Quintana, "He'd even killed Justin, blew his best friend's head into vulture kibble, just to sit in this chair, just to say hello to her."
Black & Orange is challenging fare, but certainly worth the effort. It actually won the Bram Stoker award for best First Novel. One of the things that makes this story work so well is the way the writer breathes so much life into the people in the book. They're more than just characters moving through plot twists. Even though the subject matter is fanciful, they seem more like real people dealing with real issues.
I certainly wouldn't recommend Black & Orange for younger readers or the prudish, but if your up for an immersive read please do check this one out.
Black & Orange
I have never read a story like this one before, and can draw no comparisons on the writing style, it belongs entirely to Benjamin. It is well worth a read for the brilliant writing alone, not to mention the exciting action plot, and the fantasy world you are drawn in to.
Well worth reading.