There are two basic sentences that sum up my review of Michael Laimo's Fires Rising. The first is "This is an extremely cinematic book." The plotting, timing, characters, descriptions, scenes and transitions play out exactly like how a movie would stage things. I have not read any of Laimo's other titles, so I do not know if this is a standard mode of his, or chosen specifically for this book.
The second sentence is "This book has the same problem that many good things suffer from: it could have been great but somehow failed to connect the pieces."
The plot is simple, and barely takes a break. A group of homeless men in a church come across an ancient evil. They band together and fight against a force that they have no chance again, trying to buy time until the sinless one can come to wage battle against the beast. The style is "play catch up as a go". The characters are thrust into a horror with barely enough time to blink and must make do with a very limited resources they can muster. The background story is largely guessed at (how would characters know after a couple of hours of running around?) but works as a starting point.
The book is full of action, and has a sense of good old 1970's Cathlocentric horror movies.
The flaws that drag it down come from the same sort of shallowness that keeps a plot going. The characters are not nondescript, but they are very low-descript and, twenty pages after names like Dallas and Wrath and "the Albino" are thrown at you, you find yourself struggling to really focus on which ragged homeless man is which.
The scene descriptions, the sort of shallow cuts that can work in a movie when the backdrop is there as a backdrop and nothing more, end up feeling a little too murky. As a reader, you need to have a little bit more than this book gives to tie everything together. You end up mentally grasping rooms as empty shells with a few devices.
Count this is as flight-read or a beach-read. Read it fast like the action in it flows, it works best that way. There is not a huge amount of flesh to this story, it is mean to run lean. It will keep you entertained, and generally satisfied. And, if the ending feels just one degree too cheap, it fits perfectly in with the standard source material.
Fairly recommended, with the added note that this is mostly for fans of movies involving priests and stigmata and "By the Power of Christ" moments.
Written by W Doug Bolden
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