I know, it's been awhile since I posted up a review on the blog this will probably be my last for sometime since – I want to focus on my next book Verity of Humanity...
Ok. So, I've not reviewed any books since reading Scott Laudati's Play the Devil. Most of who follow the blog know I am mostly at home reviewing poetry but; when the opportunity came to review Father William Part 1 by Shaun Mclaren I was totally intrigued by simply reading the Prologue. When I first started, I thought I would break it down in chunks but something happened the minute I started reading. I started think of growing up in a very strict Catholic family and found part one somewhat relatable... The priests were always frightening creatures that used to scare the hell out of us – especially when it was time for confession. The way that Mclaren established Father William's character is quite brilliant – he is not only very creepy but also very realistic. I found much of the plot to be extremely believable and very human – especially with regards to the way the characters are intertwined with each other. I've decided since this is a part one not to give too much of the story away as it is something I would recommend to anyone who likes things steeped in haunted pieces. The scene setting alone was enough to not so delicately produce goose bumps on my arms. That is exactly how I knew I was going to enjoy this story.
With Shawn's permission I have posted the prologue. I would strongly recommend that you read this piece.....
The sun hung high, the zenith of its daily cycle casting a warm light upon the grey stones of the church. She sat crouching behind a tombstone, waiting the moment when she would be found, hands pressed firmly against her eyes and her heart pounding in her chest. She waited and waited, but her brother never came. With a sigh she stood up. “I’m here!” She cried in her young and carefree voice. Her elder brother spun on his heel, running over with the glee of childhood in his eye as he laughed “I looked there, you moved. Cheater!”.
“I wasn’t cheating, you just can’t look properly” she insisted as she avoided his grabbing hands. The two ran back over to the church where their parents stood. The Father was waiting to speak to them about something, but she had been unconcerned with what it was, she had a game of hide and seek to finish and win. She heard her mother call her and her being the more dominant of the two siblings ordered her elder brother over. “George, move! Mother wants us and you’ll get the belt if you don’t go now!”. Her brother grimaced pettily and ran over. “I’ll beat you there and then you’ll get the belt, ha!” he said as made off in a sprint.
True to his word, the elder won the race over. She was annoyed, he was always faster and she didn’t like it. Her parents stood in conversation with a very tall man. He was big around his shoulders and had black hair, but she could only see the back of his head. Whereas other children at school were shy she was bold and puffed her chest out as she walked up to her parents. “Come here and say hello to the Father” said her mother. She didn’t even care to look at him so she just waved “Hello, father” as she continued to try and poke and prod at her brother. She didn’t notice the sigh her mother let out.
“She is always like this, Father” she explained “she has no respect and honoustly, we are at our wits end with how to discipline her. Even the threat of the belt does not stifle her wildness”. The priest took his beard between his thumb and forefinger, considering the words. Whatever her parents were talking about was of no concern to her, really. She wandered merrily over to a sarcophagus in the distance, examining the funny object with the curiosity of youth. She wondered who would have a bed like this instead of being put in the ground like everyone else, probably someone rich who had money to make sure they didn’t have to, she reckoned. She turned to make sure she was getting away with ignoring her parents. It was the priest who glared back at her. He didn’t smile, he didn’t blink. He didn’t do anything. Just stare. She didn’t like it. Not because it made her feel a little uncomfortable, no. It made the giant man scary.
She marched back over as her family entered the church, her brother calling on her to come, clinging to his father’s heels. She tutted and followed them in. They went into a side room where a table was prepared. The tall priest waved at a chair “sit down, girl” he said with a deep voice. She hesitated then climbed into the seat. Her parents shared an incredulous look for a second before returning their attention to the priest. “I will take her tonight” she overheard as she looked around the shiney things that were in the room. ‘I wonder who they mean’ she thought, but she didn’t have enough attention to the boring priest to listen to anymore, so she let her mind wander and thought about stories and horse-riding as she usually did when the adults bored her.
The priest shook hands with her Father who was smiled when he turned to her. He ruffled her hair for a second and winked at his daughter. “You’re going to stay here tonight, Katarina” he said, bending down to her level. She looked him in the eye and crossed her arms. “Why?” she demanded. “George doesn’t need to stay in this rubbish place” she called pointing at her brother.
“That’s because I’m a good boy, you’re-”
“Enough”. The command was not from either of her parents, but the priest. He glowered down at her, seeming even bigger because he was standing. He smiled and placed his hand on her head “You may be a little unruly, but we’ll teach you true faith and how to behave soon enough, Katarina”. She flitted a look to her parents to see them both standing as well as George. ‘They must be kidding, I won’t stay here’ she thought. She whimpered, trying to get them to change their mind but her mother simply shushed her and bent down. “We’ll come and get you tomorrow, Kat. Father William is just going to make sure you behave like a good girl for mum and dad. It’s only a night”. She grimaced and frowned, sighed and cried as she always did, but it was clear this time her parents would not change their mind and were set on leaving her. After some moments the priest ushered her parents out of the small room.
“Please, mother, I don’t want to stay here. I want to go home. Now” she said. Her mother shook her head and placed a soft hand against her cheek.
“No, Kat. Father William will take good care of you”.
“Fine” she retorted, crossing her arms with deliberate exaggeration. She wanted them to know that she didn’t like them so she didn’t even look at them as they waved back to her and then left the church, and her, behind as they walked into the sun.
The tall priest walked back into the small room and she stood where she was. “You will move, child” he said pointing into the room.
“My name is Katarina” she said, swelling with confidence. He nodded and the side of his mouth curled into a kind smile.
“Of course, Katarina. If we are to ensure your obedience titles will indeed be required”. She was surprised. She expected a command or a threat but instead he simply held the door open for her and smiled as her little legs passed through. He crossed the room quickly with big steps where as she skipped along after him. He pulled out some keys and opened the door and led her through. The spring in her step stopped suddenly as she noted a strange smell. She clasped her fingers to her nose. “It smells in here” she said, her voice nasally. He turned quickly and pulled her arm away from her nose. She was stunned into silence.
“Do not blaspheme in the house of God, Katarina. The punishment will be severe”. Her eyes widened briefly, then shrunk into slits as she got angry at the man.
“I didn’t do any-”
“Are you saying that the smell of the lord’s incense is not-”
“That’s not incense” she cut across him. He turned slowly to look down at her.
“Clever girl” he said slowly. She felt her stomach twist and turn with nerves she was not used to feeling. She heard the behind her close and span on her heel to see two men in white robes had come in behind her. She felt frightened. They didn’t look at her as she studied them, they didn’t even break breath to her. They stood by the door and she seen them take deep breaths.
She felt funny. The priest walked to one of the men, looking down at him too. The attendant handed him something and then the priest walked to a cabinet on the wall. He took out a cup and poured something in it. “Drink, girl” he ordered. She stood, her lip trembling, her head beginning to feel light. “I won’t ask you again, Katarina” he said. His eyes seemed to flash a little. He was angry, she knew.
“I don’t want-” before she could even finish her sentence the priest dived at her, forcing her small mouth open and pouring the cup down her neck. It felt warm, whatever it was and she cried openly at being treated so rough by such a big and imposing man. He took a pace back and watched as tears streamed down her pale face, a predator’s smile twisting his lips into a sneer. She barely seen him as he nodded to the two men and they walked out the room. She looked around, racking her childish mind how to escape. But all thought seemed to dim in her mind. She couldn’t concentrate, she felt dizzy. Soon she slumped against the door with a start and then even the tears ceased to pour down her cherub-like face.
With a powerful sweep Father William lifted her. She was tired, too tired to speak of do anything about it, so she lay in his arms. He walked through a corridor, but she didn’t register it having had been there before. As he walked on with her, her eyes became blurry, she could barely see the shapes that seemed to swirl past her and then everything went black as she walked into a dark room. She could hardly make out the light of candles that seemed to float around her.
She felt numb all over, but still felt the thud somewhere in her slowed mind as she dropped hard against what felt like a stone floor. Around her the room flashed with white and orange among the black. Faces pressed in at her, distorted and ghostly white. Her eyes rolled blearily from side to side trying to figure out her surroundings, but her small body would not allow her to. “Your parents will not see you on the morrow, girl. You are mine now” a voice boomed with hellish vigour inside her skull. Using every last ounce of stubbornness and anger she had in her, she rolled her closing eyes in the direction of the voice. She seen a tall man, a giant in scarlet as he raised her up onto a table, no, an altar, made of blackness and with parchment the colour of candle wax. She seen the giant prowl forwards in his crimson robes before she slipped entirely from consciousness.