Hekla’s Children by James Brogden
Titan Books, 2017
Available: Paperback, mass market paperback, Kindle edition
Hekla’s Children landed on this reviewer’s desk with the invitation to give it a whirl. Whirl it did, and the wild ride became one of the best surprises in recent memory. James Brogden has published three other books, but this hopefully will be his breakout effort.
Some will call this urban fantasy, others weird, while most will simply enjoy the story that has a bit of everything.
Nathan Brookes leads a group of students into an English park only to have them disappear when he abandons his post for a few minutes. One of the girls reappears the following day, damaged and unable to remember what happened during her absence. Ten years later, the nightmare begins again when an ancient warrior is dug up by archaeologist Tara Doumani, who wishes to preserve her find. However, the warrior is alive in another world, the one that the children crossed over to a decade ago, and he is desperately attempting the keep the afaugh (an evil creature hell bent on crossing over into our world) at bay.
Nathan and Tara embark on a journey to discover what happened to the kids, where the warrior came from and what he still wants– and how to keep evil on the other side of the bridge. What ensues is a tale heavy on horror and weird mythology that feels completely organic and satisfying. Brodgen’s writing is what makes this novel move. He imbues the fantasy world with a strong sense of reality that comes across as utterly natural. His characters carry with them wounds that define them and their role in this story, and break through any tired tropes. Recommended for readers of urban fantasy, weird fiction, Tim Lebbon, and Christopher Golden.
Reviewed by Dave Simms