Mini review: The Gift of Illusion by Richard Brown

Book info:
Book from: pdf file, e-book,
Genre: paranormal thriller, crime story
Target audience: adults

This book was provided by Melissa (BaT) who got it from the author in return for an honest review. Honest it will be. First the short summary, though.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

An ancient evil has returned to continue the study it began over a century ago, and it’s looking for volunteers. Isaac Winters is the perfect test subject. He’s a detective with a damaged past, and something to prove.

On the night of his wife’s murder sixteen years ago, which left him a single father, Isaac thought he had seen the worst mankind had to offer.

Until now.

It moves like a virus from person to person, carefully selecting its next host, and leaving a trail of incinerated bodies in its wake. There are no witnesses and no evidence except for a small statue of some unknown figure. Accompanied by a partner short on experience, Isaac must uncover and defeat this faceless villain before it takes from him the greatest reminder of his dead wife and his greatest treasure. Their daughter.

What I liked:

It is a paranormal thriller along the likes of Stephen King and Dean Koontz. I admit the author has a gift for description and the opening scenes are a good example of that – the apparent murder of a young girl by fire, and the subsequent death of her mother and her father send Detective Isaac Winters and his reluctant partner Daniel Simmons into a world of confusion and doubt. The whole premise makes me wonder how twisted of a mind the writer that wrote this book must have. I know, I know, not my problem. I did like the way the climax of the story broke out of the pattern I’d been expecting.

What I didn’t like:

I had a lot of trouble getting into this book. While I found the idea interesting it was basically another case of a good novel ruined by poor editing. There is more to telling a good story than just having a good idea. The book is definitely copy edited only – free from typos, misspelled words and grammar mistakes, but with some major issues outside of that.

For example the main character, although presented as an experienced investigator, makes assumptions without evidence and then shares those with a witness; he also pockets evidence from a crime scene as a kind of souvenir, and repeatedly puts his completely bare hands all over before the scene has been investigated by the forensics team. I guess in a normal world he would be sacked instantly for messing up in the most unprofessional way and hindering the investigation. Any cop would say you that much. Apart from that I must say I didn’t like Isaac. This is a bigger deal for me than it sounds; I’m a very character-driven reader, and a main character I really like will get me over a lot of other difficulties. Isaac was simply not the right guy.

What’s more…there are a few instances of foul language which made me squirm but nothing too extreme or very annoying. The largest issue of this novel, in my very humble opinion, is the use of the narrative voice. In the first two chapters there are at least three different points of view used. It hardly makes the reading easy; usually a writer would pick one style and stick with it for the clarity’s sake. I suppose the book would have worked best in a close third person narrative.

The main villain of the story left me wanting more. I do like well-fleshed baddies and it is clear Richard Brown created just a rough sketch of a really evil psychopath with potential. I really could have done with the bigger picture, adding some more explanations, back story and depth instead of gory detail. Also the ending was a little rushed for me – it was definitely too abrupt and open-ended.

Finally, despite the fact the book is written for an adult reader, I would still want to warn you that this novel is not something for people with a weak stomach. There are scenes so graphic and gruesome inside I had to skim the text because I really thought I might be as sick as a dog. These include macabre descriptions of carving human bodies and even some scenes of necrophilia (I did manage to avoid reading them in full after glimpsing the idea). Brown has created a villain so depraved that it literally churns the stomach. The question is whether you want to meet him at all.

Final verdict:

I wasn’t blown away by this one, although it had some good moments. I never quite understood what “The Gift” really was about. Even the ending left me feeling flat if not slightly disgusted. Perhaps I lack imagination.

This entry was posted in book review, mini review, paranormal, thriller and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Mini review: The Gift of Illusion by Richard Brown

  1. I am trying to find ones I think you'd like, but I only can judge by the blurb. I will try to find another one for you soon.

  2. Anachronist says:

    Dear Melissa, thank you and never worry – hits and misses are just the daily bread and butter for a reviewer…in other words no grudges or complaints!

  3. No, I don't think you lack imagination, I think it was the book. It is hit or miss (like you say) and not everything is for everyone. I don't think this one is up my alley, even if the author is a little deranged (as I like my authors deranged). Sometimes, there is a limit. 😀

  4. Anachronist says:

    I quite agree Jen – I like weird psychological thrillers but this one simply didn't work for me.

Comments are closed.