Titan Books very kindly sent me a copy of Hekla’s Children by James Brogden. I am a huge horror fan, so I was really excited do read this book.
From the blurb:
A decade ago, teacher Nathan Brookes saw four of his students walk up a hill and vanish. Only one returned: Olivia, starved, terrified, and with no memory of where she’d been. Questioned by the police but released for lack of evidence, Nathan spent the years trying to forget.
When a body is found in the same ancient woodland where they disappeared, it is first believed to be one of the missing children, but is soon identified as a Bronze Age warrior, nothing more than an archaeological curiosity. Yet Nathan starts to have horrific visions of the students, alive but trapped. Then Olivia reappears, desperate that the warrior’s body be returned to the earth. For he is the only thing keeping a terrible evil at bay.
Nathan Brookes was really not having a good day, the woman he was seeing was not happy with him, leading to him being distracted when he was supposed to be looking after four teenagers on a school trip.
That few minutes of distraction changes the course of his life, when the children go missing. Nathan is questioned over the incident and no one believes his story that they walked over a wooden bridge into a forest. There is no forest, there is no bridge.
A day later, one of the missing kids, Olivia Crawford, is found at the spot she went missing. She is severely dehydrated, and claims to have no memory of what happened, or where the others are.
Still under suspicion from the authorities and parents of the missing teenagers, Nathan leaves his job and becomes a mountaineering guide in North Wales.
Ten years later, his ex Sue contacts him via Facebook, sending a news article about a body that has been found in the bogs of Sutton Park. Nathan is drawn back to the place where his life fell apart, but is it the body of one of the missing children, or something far more insidious?
Dr Tara Doumani is an Osteoarchaeologist, who’s expertise is called upon to identify the body found in the park. At first, it seems very clear cut, the body is obviously a bog mummy, and carbon dating proves it was placed there 3,000 years ago. The body couldn’t possibly belong to one of the missing teenagers… or could it?
Nathan and Tara are flung together by events triggered thousands of years ago, and taking place now. Because it’s happening now. It’s always happening now.
This book was not what I expected. It seems to constantly change genres as you progress through the book. Hekla’s Children starts out as thriller/mystery, turns into outright horror halfway through, and then transforms into a fantasy novel. I also really loved the bits about North Wales (wooo).
This book is creepy, graphic, visual, slow burning and incredibly gory. There are also random bits that make you giggle. Ultimately, this is a story about one man’s realisation that he has become the thing he despises most.
If you’re a fan of Stephen King, Neil Gaiman or Thomas Olde Heuvelt you will love this book.
I gave this book 4/5 stars on Goodreads-it was excellent, but there were a few bits where I found it a bit slow going.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments to below!