Review: ‘Hekla’s Children’ by James Brogden

Hekla’s Children by James Brogden
Titan Books (March 7, 2017)
400 pages; $8.79 paperback; $7.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

Sometimes a book which comes out of left field can be a home run. Hekla’s Children landed on this reviewer’s desk with the invitation to give it a whirl. Whirl it did, and the wild ride became one of the best surprises in recent memory. James Brogden has published three other books but this hopefully will be his breakout effort. Some will call this urban fantasy, others weird, while most will simply enjoy a story which has a bit of everything.

Nathan Brookes leads a group of students into an English park only to have them disappear when he abandons his post for a few minutes. One of the girls reappears the following day, damaged and unable to recall what occurred in her absence. Ten years later, the nightmare begins again when an ancient warrior is dug up by archeologist Tara Doumani, who wishes to preserve her find. However, the warrior is alive in another world, the one that the children crossed over to a decade ago, and desperately attempting the keep the afaugh (an evil creature hell bent on crossing over into our world) at bay.

Nathan and Tara embark on a journey to discover what happened to the kids, where the warrior came from and what he still wants—and how to keep evil on the other side of the bridge. What ensues is a tale heavy on horror and weird mythology, which feels completely organic and satisfying.

Brodgen’s writing is what makes this novel move. A step above much of the mainstream, he imbues the fantasy world with a strong sense of a reality which comes across as utterly natural. His characters (who show up during the course of the story and would ruin any surprises) break through any tired tropes and sing with originality and carry with them wounds that define them and their role in this story.

Hekla’s Children just might remind readers of Tim Lebbon or Chris Golden, which is a pretty cool compliment.

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