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No Reflection (The Furies) (Volume 1) Paperback – May 26, 2013
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This read has been a gripping tour de force. Mr. Hughes has quite deftly blended the elements that make wonderful mystery with Bram Stoker's sheer terror inducing descriptions. The plot opens with fashion designer Nicole witnessing a woman getting hit by a subway train. From there, she finds her world spiralling out of control, with reality and fantasy colliding in a veritable train wreck of perception.
Mr. Hughes writing style brings the reader along to that mental precipice. The expression of Nicole's terror and confusion saturates the narrative and the reader cannot help but spiral with her. There were honestly places where I felt as though I would fall into her terrified dream state on my own.
My criticisms of the book are mostly technical, and a fair number probably stem from the fact that it is self published and lacked the benefit of the full editorial process. The first thing I found was the appearance of the occasional typo, nothing major, but they do crop up. The biggest problem that I had with the lay out is that there are breaks between each paragraph, which, aesthetically, drives me absolutely nuts. Again, this may be a side effect of self publication, but it is something I have a problem with. That being said, there is one point, toward the end of the novel, where the paragraph breaks are combined with indentation to create a brilliant aesthetic effect, so it's not all bad.
I found the characters to be wonderfully put together, colored through Nicole's perceptive lens in ways that make them quite real. It has been quite a while since I read a book that I didn't want to put down, but No Reflection had me absolutely on the edge of my seat.
And so, my friend, kudos on your first novel. You've done great, I can't wait to read the next one. Quick word choice note though, you can't have a "cold sirocco." Sirocco is the wind that blows off the Libyan desert into southern Italy. Good idea, wrong name to pick though.
All in all, I liked this book. The storyline for me was a little bit odd, but not in a bad way. My main complaint is that the paranormal aspect felt a little tagged on. It wasn't really necessary in the context of this book; I would have just as easily believed that the killer was a messed up human with a very messed up hobby. I do think, however, that this book is set up for a more paranormal immersed second book. If the intention was to ease the reader into out-of-the-norm ideas, just as the ideas are introduced to Nicole, I'm okay with it. If not, well...it could have been handled better.
The characters were generally likeable, though awkward at times. They all seemed to be their own people, which sounds like a strange compliment but really is meant as one. I'm interested to see how the relationships grow throughout the course of the series, to see if the characters become less of a smattering of islands and more connected as the adventure unfolds.
The was definitely a different sort of read for me because, while I read a lot of paranormal literature, this was one of the few books that truly focused (like a laser beam...) on the grotesque nature of all things evil. There was blood, guts, dirt, and whatever else one might find in the tunnels beneath NYC. It was explained in such fine detail that I could feel the filth under my nails and found myself choking at the smell. As someone who has never really lived in a city (and would have no idea of these intricacies), I really appreciate Hughes' ability to put me in the space.
No Reflections is full of fun "Easter eggs," fantastic imagery, and a film-noir type plot. It's a quick read, and I would recommend it to anyone interested in sci-fi, paranormal, and horror, but a strong stomach is a must!