Thursday, September 09, 2010

Talion


Talion by Mary Maddox

(Cantraip Press / 0-984-42810-0 / 978-0-984-42810-6 / March 2010 / 296 pages / $12.99 / Amazon $9.35 / Kindle $1.99)

Reviewed by Dianne Salerni for PODBRAM

When Lisa Duncan’s parents decide to separate their daughter from her pot-smoking friends, they send her to spend the summer at Hidden Creek Lodge in Utah, which is owned by her aunt and uncle. They have no idea that there is much greater danger to their daughter than normal teenage hijinks: Lisa has attracted the attention of a serial killer who has chosen her as his next victim and who is more than happy to follow her to a remote Utah vacation spot. In her first days at Hidden Creek, Lisa meets Lu Jakes, the abused and timid daughter of an employee at the lodge. Although Lu is below Lisa’s perceived social status (Lisa calls her Trailer Girl), the isolation of the lodge throws the two girls together, and the stalking killer decides that two victims could be better than one. Lu Jakes is particularly interesting to him because she is already dazed and downtrodden. Little does he know that Lu sees things others do not – shining ethereal creatures called Delatar, Black Claw, and Talion, who may just provide her an edge that he won’t expect.

Mary Maddox’s tightly woven thriller is a smooth read, with clear vivid narration and fully formed characters. Writing in third person narration, from multiple perspectives, Maddox has used the clever strategy of placing narration from Lu’s perspective in present tense, while everyone else’s perspective is past tense. This serves to make the text surrounding Lu just a little disjointed from the other scenes – as if she doesn’t quite share the same timeline as everyone else. The strange creatures that she sees, including the Talion for which the book is named, provide an interesting twist to the story – although Talion is not as significant in the climax as I expected. Were Talion and his fellow creatures guardian angels, demons, or the hallucinations of a mentally disturbed girl? I expected some room for interpretation here, but considering his title role, I did expect to see a lot more of Talion.

Despite the two teenage protagonists, this is not a book for YA readers. The violence is on par with adult thrillers along the lines of Thomas Harris or James Ellroy. I’m not crazy about the cover image; I’m still not certain what it is meant to portray. The supernatural element of the story might have been more thoroughly explored, but overall this is an excellent suspense thriller, smoothly written, and well edited.

See also: The Author's Website
Dianne's GoodReads Review

Read an Excerpt from Talion
Interview with Mary Maddox
Another Interview with Mary Maddox