Hey fellow 9th circle dwellers. This is a non-spoiler review (yay).
After Jack’s wife passes away he is asked by their friend, Ellen, to fulfill a promise his wife made a long time ago. Reluctantly, Jack agrees and, along with Ellen and her granddaughter Dani, the three return to Hethpool Grange – a forgotten hospital in Northumberland – to confront a dark and brutal past. A past Jack has tried for almost sixty years to forget.
But there is something waiting for them in Hethpool Grange. Something which has not forgotten, or forgiven, their sins.
And it is hungry…
First thing I have to say is this – great cover art by Adrian Baldwin (huge Adrian Baldwin fan, here). Eesh. I started with a compliment… that is extremely disturbing. I better restore some equilibrium, for my sanity, by laying out all the things I hated… except…. I don’t hate lots about this book. What is happening to me? I’ve been… *shudders*… enjoying things, a lot. It must be that damned Jolly Goat’s influence – the upbeat little f***.
“Everything was temporary, except death.”
We begin with a mysterious sighting at Jack’s wife’s funeral. It opens quite sad, and then goes straight to intrigue. Who is this guy, why is he being cryptic? Who is he warning them about? I always appreciate a setup that introduces history and questions at the same time.
Jack and his old friend Ellen, both in their 70’s, are compelled to return to the site of many horrors, to confront their past. There’s potentially a villain, who should not be bothering them for… certain reasons. They arrive at their destination, where evil and impossible things unfold before their eyes, and they – along with Ellen’s granddaughter, Dani – are put in mortal peril.
I do have a complaint (phew, really wasn’t feeling like myself there for a second). In the second half, we go back in time to when Jack and Nora (his wife) were in their early days of getting to know eachother, and we’re taken through the events that resulted in the later chaos Jack faces in his 70’s. Ordinarly, I love it when authors play with time this way, but in this case, I guess I found it a little wasted. Whilst I was enjoying the story and the writing (some great writing here, by the way), we had already been told what had happened in the past during the first half. Instead of discovering the things in the past, we’re just sort of having the things we’ve already been told repeated to us in real-time. I think that’s a massive shame, because had the author just set up the questions in the first half, this second part would have been super interesting as we would have got to discover all the answers of what went down.
Nevertheless, this is a very quick and entertaining read, and I have to say that despite the short page count, I was invested in the characters. The author did really well in setting them up and developing them in such a short time span. I was also very satisfied with the ending – and that’s normally where a book falls apart for me.
I’d recommend Between the Teeth of Charon to people who enjoy being haunted (but quickly!), and also to people who enjoy a bit of variation when it comes to the age of the protagonist – the only other book that I can think of right now that features a main character in their 70’s is Insomnia by Stephen King.
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