The story starts out with a bang, with a young Melchi losing his mentor and master to the Mulo. And then we're off and running. Hailey gets attacked by something in her research lab, only to have a fully grown Melchi save her. Soon Hailey is running for her life, unsure of who she can trust or what exactly is happening to her. Melchi seems so sure of himself that an ancient evil is trying to claim her. But can he possibly be right when his stories and theories are so outlandish?
I have to admit, I didn't have a clue what was going on half the time. The backstory of Melchi's beliefs are never fully explained. But that's okay, because the ambiguity works so well with the story. The tension Hailey feels is also pretty believable. She wants to trust Melchi and is instinctively drawn to the gentle giant, but there are so many competing theories for what's happening to her that she can't be sure.
Olson also did a great job of putting the reader into Melchi's strange world. The first time you encounter the full grown Melchi, looking for his lost backpack, he doesn't make a lot of sense. His unique, slightly warped belief system slowly unfolds throughout the book. It's a gradual pace which really helps. It doesn't overwhelm the reader.
My only complaint, and it's minor, is that Olson might have been able to ratchet up the tension a little better. He tries to do so by calling Hailey's experiences into doubt in the early going. Is she suffering from paranoid schizophrenia or was she really almost attacked by some boogey man? But this tension disappears about a third of the way through the book. While Hailey questions what's happening to her, the reader doesn't. Olson tries to restoke those fires toward the end by casting Melchi in a less than positive light. But by that time, we've spent so much time in Melchi's head that it isn't that effective. If Olson had done this earlier, perhaps immediately after Hailey's doubts about her sanity, it might have been a little more effective.
As it is, Olson has put together a thrilling ride through an ancient battle between good and evil, one that brings the reader through harrowing near misses and some great personal salvation.
Go and see what the other tourists have to say:
CSFF Blog Tour
Todd Michael Greene
Rebecca LuElla Miller
John W. Otte
Mirtika or Mir's Here