The best bit about this novel cannot be revealed since it would mostly spoil the ending* (only follow that asterick if you don't mind the spoiler). The worst bit is that it reads like a excellent novella with the length doubled by needless and rhythm off-setting padding. Nate Kenyon has an unmistakable way with words, though, and keeps the whole thing from miring down.
At the core of the novel are two horror trophes: the well-intentioned stranger and the small town with a bad past. Think "Shadow over Innsmouth" or Salem's Lot. The general direction of the novel is fairly predictable. Stranger comes to town, makes friends with someone in the know. All the while a few unexpected deaths make ill omen of things to come. As the bad stuff escalates, a few innocent people become not so innocent due to powers beyond their control. The stranger, or a friend of the stranger, digs into the town's past and finds a series of bad events. Finally, it all culminates with the stranger facing the true face of evil for better or worse.
Bloodstone mostly plays precisely by the numbers, which is neither a good nor bad thing in this case. It works, and makes for intersting story. If that overall plot has worked for you in the past, it will probably work for you, here. If it is any help, this is one of the better uses of that basic storyline. Not only are the characters interesting and sympathetic, but Kenyon's use of phrases to set mood and descriptive lighting is quite effective.
The final result is a Good novel held back slightly by the material that felt extraneous and slightly by overpromising just how evil things would turn out to be, though balanced out by a cast of enjoyable, plausible characters and a careful handling of the surprises at the end to make them worthwhile. Shows a lot of promise as far as future novels are concerned.
*: the fact that the novel is Lovecraftian in nature is most excellent, and the fact that it makes the most subtle reference to Shub-Niggarauth that I have ever seen gets a huge round of applause.
Written by W Doug Bolden
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