Written by: Drake Morgan
Alexandra Sokoloff has a way with words. Her novel The Book of Shadows opens with “It was a vision of hell.” Rather than the cliché literal mouth of hell, we have a bleak rendering of a city dump, complete with dead body. You can almost taste the stench in the back of your mouth and the opening description demand you read on.
And read on you must. The Book of Shadows is a story of murder, witchcraft, and terror. A body turns up in the city dump with hints of ritual murder. The evidence is fairly straightforward and a troubled student is arrested. The narrative has indirect parallels to the West Memphis Three case in its use of Goth stereotypes and assumptions of guilt. But Sokoloff takes us one step further when Tanith Cabarrus, a practicing witch, insists the real killer is still on the loose. Can two rational, logical detectives put aside their doubts, fears, and suspicions and entertain the possibility of the supernatural in order to catch a killer?
Sokoloff is a master at drawing the razor-thin between belief and disbelief. I believe in magic, witchcraft, and the supernatural so I immediately fell in line with Cabarrus and her story. But just when I was thoroughly convinced, Sokoloff skillfully turned the narrative toward disbelief. The tension mounted throughout the story, pulling the reader back and forth with every page. Like our detectives, we don’t want to believe, but then again can we ignore the dark shadows creeping around the corner? Can we face the truth, but then again, exactly what is the truth?
The Book of Shadows is part crime thriller, part paranormal exploration, part horror, and all brilliant. Well-paced, intriguing, and compelling, Sokoloff is a rare gem in the world of dark fiction.
Order the novel right here.