Benjamin Poe, a small town fire captain, is having some family problems. Strained relationships with both his wife and adult son, the latter of whom is prone to mood swings and worrying outbursts, are making his home life difficult. Unbeknownst to him, things are about to get a whole lot worse. Following a fire at a big hotel in town, which kills three, Poe starts encountering Crighton, a demon with glowing green eyes, an imposing presence and a habit of appearing in creepy scenarios, demanding the handover of Poe’s son before he’ll depart. His family’s life starts to feel threatened, and his son’s behavior is increasingly cause for concern. Crighton knows the town’s secrets, and gnawing at them seems to be his primary modus operandi, scaring various hardy characters and unveiling layers of personal darkness as he does so.
Kaylin McFarren’s SOUL SEEKER is one of those books in which the main tale happily unwinds alongside the perspectives of the main character–crammed with enticing unanswered questions, cause to doubt the characters who seemed to offer a semblance of stability, and a nice anxious build towards various big reveals. There are serious dark overtones to the whole thing and a nervous tension in the carefully-curated, almost poetic prose around a family’s tenuous peace fading, and a man’s divided loyalties. Readers are thrown into some of the eventual consequences in the flash-forward scene at the very opening of the book, but unravelling the route to Poe’s sticky situation is a great journey, one riddled with twists of self-discovery that see his world unravel and pock-marked with the supernatural and, at times, the revolting.
McFarren’s SOUL SEEKER is not a typical mystery story, though as far as supernatural adventures go, it does keep a relatively firm link to reality, allowing its stranger corners to infest the everyday, rather than inventing an entirely new world for them to sit within. This is McFarren’s greatest strength–the author captures both the heartbreak and uncertainty of an unraveling family situation, alongside the surreal journeys into the supernatural that are the book’s heart, the two intrinsically linked as the relatively normal lead character descends into a bitter, heart-wrenching situation. SOUL SEEKER is harsh and abrasive at times, and has some real suspenseful shock factors, as well as a charming, enticing narrative that eschews supernatural cliches, and sets the pulse racing.
Kaylin McFarren’s SOUL SEEKER is a clever, slow-building supernatural thriller that finds great strength in the way it infuses a fairly normal reality with ever-growing surrealist undertones.
~James Hendicott for IndieReader