Review: The Helland Reckoning, by Adrian Martin
This novel is a nail-biting read, taking gothic elements and weaving them into a modern thriller, set in Cornwall.
The Helland Reckoning by Adrian Martin is a mystery thriller set in Cornwall, and delivers an intriguing plot with dark, tense atmosphere. The story follows Katie Tremain, a young mother of twin daughters, who is moving to her new home in Cornwall which holds pleasant memories, only to return to a much darker world where murders take place, her daughter is stolen from her, and strangers are appearing at her front door.
This novel is a nail-biting read, taking gothic elements and weaving them into a modern thriller set in Cornwall. It incorporates all the attributes of a good mystery, but also puts its own spin on things. There are explicit hints to satanic worship, demonic possession, and violent scenes reminiscent of a horror movie. I think it is interesting to place a thriller story into an environment associated with beauty and tranquillity, because it makes for good juxtaposition.
While the themes are dark, we are given characters that we can relate to in everyday situations. There are more than five narrators in total, all shown at different stages, so we are given a big picture of the intense mystery and the clues surrounding it, not just the main protagonists. Sometimes it is overwhelming to be switching between so many characters, since you have a lot to keep track of, but it means there are a lot of factors to think about while piecing together the mystery. Michael, for example, is an apparent protagonist, but with ulterior motives that we don’t quite understand. Not much is given away, so this is what makes the story a page-turner.
The characters and the shockingly dark tone are what make this novel so unique. A critique I would make, however, is that it struggles to engage me. As a mystery thriller, it must have an initial ‘hook’ that makes the reader want to find out more, or makes them be on the edge of their seat, so to speak. In The Helland Reckoning, the pacing is rather slow with too much emphasis on small details, so we’re not given a reason to keep reading. It is this slow pacing, however, that makes readers keen to know what will happen in the future, as nothing is clear from the beginning, and histories of both the characters and the area they live in need to be unravelled.
Overall, The Helland Reckoning serves as a fitting tribute to the inspiring land of Cornwall, using its landscape as the setting for a disturbing story. Adrian Martin is able to depict horror and tense atmospheres efficiently, and brings depth to his characters. For a first novel, this is evidence of a promising career as an author. All that is needed is more practice on specifics , such as dialogue, and the stories will be on their way to success.
by Abigail Martin