Crone: A Scarlet St. James Novel by Maria Mayer, 478 pages, Archway Publishing, December 15th, 2015, Format: Kindle, Genre: Horror. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.
Review by Leigh Holland.
Those who go looking for trouble will most likely find it. In Crone, those who’ve gone looking for trouble reap what they’ve sown. The story deals with a recurring set of crimes in Michigan, a serial killer who returns every thirty years to murder several men, then disappear. So far, nobody has connected the crimes, much less discovered any clues as to the true nature of the killer. Over the course of the book, the slayings and events leading up to them are recounted in horrifying, spine-chilling detail.
The murders take place in 1954, 1984, and 2014, respectively. Although events from the 1954 killings are mentioned, the main focus flips between the events in 1984 and 2014. Men are toyed with, psychologically tormented, ripped apart slowly, and devoured; pawns in a deadly cosmic battle between an immortal, evil witch and her demonic lover and master. While the police have tried to solve the crimes in prior years, forensics was unheard of in the 1950’s and barely used in 1984. However, this time they have forensic evidence to help them solve the crimes. As the mortifying evidence develops, clue by clue, they can’t believe what it suggests. Enter Scarlet St. James- a Private Detective, contractor for the cops, devoted sister and aunt, and an intuitive warrior against unseen evil forces.
Eerie and ominous, I felt there was a good balance between frightening, creepy material and grim, graphic descriptions. The primary theme was good versus evil. Evil can never be truly defeated by good; but the reverse is also true. There is a cosmic interplay between forces that at times produces horrific events, at other times, the very things that make life worth living as a simple mortal being. We can’t completely defeat evil, but we can drive it back and shine the light. The plot gets right into the characters and action but doesn’t provide a hook. I felt the intention was to slowly build anticipation and a sense of horror.
The Unholy 5 were bad boys who became obsessed with the occult. Biting off more than they could chew, they met what they’d been seeking, realizing too late what they’d done. It was gratifying to see them get what they deserved. I identified most strongly with the title character. While not perfect, Scarlet has many admirable qualities. Devoted to her family, fiercely protective of her loved ones, and dedicated to doing the right thing regardless of how terrifying it would be, Scarlet St. James was a likeable and relatable character.
I liked reading Crone. I’m interested to see where Mayer takes this character and the series. As a lifelong fan of Stephen King, I could feel his influence in sections of Mayer’s writing. I’m looking forward to reading more in this series. I’d recommend this book to fans of the horror genre.
Find this book on Amazon at Crone.