With multiple storylines, exciting and often brutal action scenes, frights, romance, real laughs and some surprising twists en route to a “wait, what?” conclusion, Northman author J.D. Hughes (@JDHughes4) has created a horror novel of depth and emotion.
The story begins in 843 AD with a bloody Viking raid on the coast of England and then shifts to a German bombing raid during World War II before arriving at the present day. Shortly after the tomb of a cursed Viking warrior will be discovered, and like a line of dominos set on end, one event begins to topple into the next. To say more would be to spoil the telling for new readers.
The characters are well-defined and realistic, each bearing emotional scars that are vitally important to the overall plot which is at the bottom a look at the battle of good versus evil. Religion, politics, popular entertainment, raising children, growing old, loneliness, guilt, jealousy and gender roles are topics which this thought-provoking novel pulls out of the shadows of thought and examines within the context of the overall narrative.
Don’t worry: this is no dry college philosophy text. Hughes deals with these various streams of thought in the most natural way possible — through his characters as they interact and go about their business while an unimaginable evil develops around them. I give the author credit for not simply writing — for lack of a better term — a by-the-numbers horror story (creature created, buried, discovered, fought, defeated) and instead delving deeply into these topics, which are very often at the root of what scares us most.
Although the story slows down a bit in the middle — please note I did *not* say ‘drags’ — it picks back up soon enough and the reader will be frantically flipping pages to find out how the story ends. And the ending isn’t the ending, per se, as you’ll find out when you get there. (hint: fairly big twist).
Mr. Hughes has written several short stories/novellas, but Northman is his first full-length novel. I dearly hope it won’t be his last. To learn more about the author and his work, visit his blog.