Today is my turn on the blog tour for Reprobation by Catherine Fearns. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part, and to the author for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially. Make sure you read right down to the end of the review to enter a fantastic giveaway.
“Are you one of the elect?
Dr. Helen Hope is a lecturer in eschatology – the study of death, judgement, and the destiny of humankind. She is also a Calvinist nun, her life devoted to atoning for a secret crime.
When a body is found crucified on a Liverpool beach, she forms an unlikely alliance with suspect Mikko Kristensen, lead guitarist in death metal band Total Depravity. Together, they go on the trail of a rogue geneticist who they believe holds the key – not just to the murder, but to something much darker.
Also on the trail is cynical Scouse detective Darren Swift. In his first murder case, he must confront his own lack of faith as a series of horrific crimes drag the city of two cathedrals to the gates of hell.
Science meets religious belief in this gripping murder mystery.”
I often talk here on the blog about how much I love certain book covers and how they would entice me to buy the book, but I don’t think I’ve ever said before that I dislike a cover. I really don’t like this one though. I can honestly say, I would never pick up a book with this scary-ass nun on the cover in a book shop!
However, to be put off this book by the cover would be a mistake because the book itself is quite a revelation and one I am extremely glad I read, although I still have not 100% made up my mind how I feel about it; I am still sifting through a lot of the questions it raised in my head; and it is an extremely difficult book to categorise, as it has so many different strands going on within it, some of which are in direct contrast to one another. It is a very original book, very different to anything else I have read.
At heart it is a crime thriller, with a body turning up in gruesome circumstances on Crosby beach, swiftly followed by another, with a third person going missing, leaving a distasteful clue behind. The murders seem to have an element of religious symbolism, so the police turn to a Calvinist nun (yes, really) to help unravel its meaning. She, in turn, finds a link to a death metal band (yes, really) and..well, the story just gets more complicated and bizarre as it goes along. You’ll have to read it for yourself if you would like to know how it all fits together.
This book, aside from the criminal puzzle, explores a lot of very interesting but disparate subjects. Religious beliefs, life after death, genetics, the existence of good and evil, predestination, the different sub-genres of heavy metal. The author has obviously done a lot of research on these topics which shows in the writing and it is fascinating to read. Some of the theological debates lost me ever so slightly along the way, but the questions raised are riveting to think about, and of a scale not normally tackled in this type of book. I actually think this is an immensely brave novel.
In contrast, parts of this books actually struck me as quite funny in their ludicrousness. Particularly some of the situations that Helen and Mikko find themselves in together, as they are so unlikely, and Sister Mary. Despite the heavy subject matter and some of the imagery, which is extremely violent and graphic, the book had a certain levity to it, which was surprising but also welcome, I think, to help the reader through and stop us being dragged down by the enormity of the topics discussed.
The setting, on the barren and hostile shores of a wintertime Northern coast really fit the atmosphere and set the tone of the book and was completely right. The characters were all well-developed, if extremely unusual, and overall it was really well written. This is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but I found it refreshing and thought-provoking and relished its challenge. I still don’t like the cover, though.
Reprobation is out now and you can get your copy here.
To enter the giveaway to win a gift pack which would include signed book, tote bag, t-shirt, magnet, guitar picks, temporary tattoos and postcards, simply click the Rafflecopter link below:
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box above. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
To follow the rest of the blog tour for this book, visit the blogs listed below:
About the Author
Catherine Fearns is a writer from Liverpool, UK. Her first novel, a crime thriller called ‘Reprobation’, will be published by Crooked Cat Books in October 2018. As a music journalist Catherine is a regular contributor to Pure Grain Audio, and she has also published numerous pieces of short fiction and non-fiction.Catherine has a degree from Oxford University and a Masters from the London School of Economics. She began her career as a financial analyst, but after having four children she retrained as a breastfeeding counsellor. Having lived in several countries, she recently moved to Switzerland, where she discovered her love of writing and is a member of the Geneva Writers’ Group. She plays the piano very well but prefers to play the guitar very badly. Oh, and she likes metal music. A lot.
Connect with Catherine:
Facebook: Catherine Fearns