Verdict: Joshua Ingle’s writing talent is evident in this paranormal horror thriller about a repentant demon, although the story may be an acquired taste with characters who grow on readers over time.
In THE THORN SAGA, demons who fell from heaven now float amongst us, whispering beguiling thoughts into our ears with the intentions of goading us to destruction and death. Invisible and intangible to humans, they operate in a loose and competitive society, where each demon’s value is based upon how much harm they encourage humans to cause—from sloth and despair to rape, suicide, and murder. The most powerful and respected demon in Atlanta, Thorn is challenged by an old rival and shortly becomes perplexed when he momentarily and unexpectedly changes form. Thorn finds himself seeking greater meaning and starting to care about the humans he once urged to destruction.
Even for horror fans, some may find the story of THE THORN SAGA initially hard to swallow, as Ingle writes some very unlikable and disturbing characters, who engage in callous, violent, and sociopathic behaviors. Ingle’s characters are made more disquieting because of their verisimilitude, how lifelike they are while being so emotionally cold. Demonic whispers and human vices influence characters without redeeming qualities, such as an abusive boyfriend; a superficial, soul-dead rich girl; and an outwardly unassuming serial killer. Yet those who enjoy dark, edgy tales will be satisfied and in a certain light the violence and sociopathy can be humorous through schadenfreude.
In this five-book series, also available as a single edition omnibus, Ingle proves his ability to write realistic characters and dialogue, as well as tell a story rich in action, suspense, and well-researched geopolitical and historical details. A page-turning thriller, THE THORN SAGA nevertheless is also unusually philosophical, depicting a God and Satan who resemble but significantly differ from biblical portrayals, as well as dilemmas with much moral ambiguity.
While Thorn’s developing existential angst and rebellion against dogma redeem him, his ethical transformation feels abrupt. Would a demon with a long-time status equivalent to a crime boss really change so quickly and completely? Ingle poses big questions about morality and meaning, but at times delivers simplistic, trite answers. And while the ending hits the spot, some may find the transition from dark and edgy to bright and sanguine a bit jarring. While Ingle’s writing talent is evident, the story may be an acquired taste with characters who grow reader’s over time.
~Christopher James Dubey for IndieReader