Verdict: PORTRAIT OF RAGE is a novel designed to captivate, and it successfully does just that.
When Thomas Shear buys an old house to use for his art gallery, he’s confronted by its secrets and sordid past and is drawn into a supernatural mystery that threatens to destroy everything and everyone he loves.
Artist Thomas Shear has discovered the perfect dwelling to house his art gallery—a two-story house in quaint, downtown Marietta, Georgia. Soon after moving in, Thomas begins having nightmares and uses them as the basis for a series of grim and horrific paintings. At his first opening, these paintings enthrall all who view them and when word of their existence reaches the local police department, Thomas becomes suspect number one in a serial murder case. His life descends into a hellish existence that straddles the earthly and the supernatural, and only by connecting the two will he, and everyone around him, be able to put the past to rest.
Wise’s PORTRAIT OF RAGE is classified as a Paranormal Mystery, but it’s just as much Gothic fiction and contains many classic Gothic motifs—an old house, and its inhabitants, haunted by its past; the sins of the father being passed down to future generations; the collision of the earthly and the supernatural, among them. Wise keeps the overall feel of the novel in mind and immediately begins the story with a dead body and descriptions that set the tone—“Dark clouds, pregnant with moisture, loomed in the late afternoon sky. Thunder rumbled in the distance. Slatted shutters had been opened allowing overcast light into the oppressive gloom. The air was rancid with the stench of decay…” It’s beautifully dark and gloomy without resorting to overblown, flowery language to get the point across.
Throughout its entirety, the novel’s narrative is well balanced between action and description, and while some parts are emotionally difficult to read, Wise doesn’t use an overabundance of gore for shock value. The characters are relatable, and even though the relationship between Thomas and Kelly develops quickly, it feels entirely credible alongside the supernatural elements of the story. Overall Wise deftly weaves the story and makes it all seem plausible, and she does so without succumbing to trite overindulgences in cheap scares to keep it interesting.
PORTRAIT OF RAGE is a novel designed to captivate, and it successfully does just that.