‘Set by Luke Walker is a horror novel with supernatural and apocalyptic elements.
Between Heaven and Hell, there is another world. To save her daughter’s soul, Emma Cooper will tear that world apart.
After the loss of her baby, Emma Cooper feels as if she’s just going through the motions of her life. That’s until an angel and demon knock at her door with news dwarfing life and death.
Emma’s daughter’s soul is trapped in a world of the dead, a world of permanent sunset. This is ‘Set and it’s to this world that Emma must travel after she is chosen by the celestial and infernal management. By working with Above and Below, she has a chance of helping her daughter and countless other souls move on from ‘Set.
In this world, recently deceased George Bryson has declared war on Heaven and Hell. But this fight with his maker has opened doors he cannot close. The forgotten remnants of Creation are coming to consume all worlds. If Emma can’t stop Bryson’s war, her daughter will be lost forever.
And so will everybody else.
Double special today: Not only was ‘Set provided to me free by Luke Walker, but Luke and I know each other from online. I do not intend this to bias my review, but it’s possible I will subconsciously treat this more kindly than a book from a stranger, so be aware.
I really enjoy Luke Walkers work. The Red Girl was one of the best Horror debuts I’ve read in a while. ‘Set is good too, but there was something off about it that disrupted my enjoyment of it a little.
It took a while to work out what it was – was it the writing? No, Luke writes tight, straightforward prose with an impressive degree of profanity. Was it the story? No, that was great. There were no plot holes, everything made sense, characters stayed in character. The ending was bitter sweet, but satisfactory. In terms of apocalyptic elements, this had some good, solid ones that were a bit more unusual – the tearing apart of our own world because the underworld is getting full up.
I worked it out, in the end. It was the pace. Pace is very difficult to get right, especially in horror novels, and doubly especially in horror novels that are only 300 or so pages long. You need to balance the shortness of the work with building things up. And, much as I love Lukes work, I’m not sure he got the pace right in this. Everything seemed to happen too fast. The main character agreed to thigns too quickly, and had no real problems with what was happening. She was bright and breezy at points where that reaction didn’t seem appropriate to me, and it didn’t seem ‘real’.
It’s rare that I say a book could have done with being longer, but I’ll say it here. Luke Walker could have done a lot with more space – more to build characters and tension, more to create the creepy, awful feeling that The Red Girl was so full of.
But that’s the only real flaw in an otherwise excellent piece of work.
4 OUT OF 5.
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