Want to read my book review of Junior Inquisitor: Book One of the Inquisitor Series first? Just click the link.
Lincoln Farish abandons the intimate shadowy encounters of the first book in the Inquisitor Series for full-on immersion in the war between the darkest supernatural forces and humanity’s secret defenders. The Inquisitor Series expands almost explosively with Soulless Monk, and I think the direction works for the series and for the second Inquisitor Series novel, itself.
Soulless Monk focuses on the journeys of Junior Inquisitor‘s protagonist, Brother Sebastian, and its two primary antagonists, Thaddeus and James. All three have fallen into serious trouble: Thaddeus was betrayed and dismembered, James went into hiding, and Brother Sebastian faced harsh inquiry over a simple mission gone unexpectedly awry. The book starts with Thaddeus’s return to the world, James’s re-entrance into dark magic to try to save his own life, and Brother Sebastian’s final examination mission in Hammer training–which also goes unexpectedly awry.
The Inquisitor Series is saturated with the strangely supernatural, and Soulless Monk immerses readers in author Lincoln Farish’s perilous occult world after Junior Inquisitor introduces readers to it. Farish’s point-of-view and narrative shifts are a risk, but they don’t detract from the overall story. (Both James’s and Brother Sebastian’s stories are told in first-person narrative, and Thaddeus’s story is told in third-person narrative.) By the end of Soulless Monk, Farish’s use of those narrative devices adds to the tension and enriches the story’s climactic finale.
Author Lincoln Farish’s character development and his vivid descriptions of nightmarish monsters are stellar. It’s clear the occult world, itself, maddens its participants: Good or evil, all are scarred by this grim reality obfuscated by the shadows. The creatures that the Hammers face are numerous and terrifying, and the magic users who control these creatures are equally numerous and terrifying. The battles between the power-hungry magic users and the hard-hitting Hammers are breathless rides from start to finish. The details in the devils are Farish’s strength as a writer, and his story baptizes readers into an amazing, macabre supernatural world set within our own.
Despite author Lincoln Farish’s ability to weave a gripping tale, the first third of Soulless Monk suffers greatly from combined time and narrative shifts. While I appreciate that chapter headings announce those shifts, telling the story in chronological order would have gelled that first third. Lincoln Farish’s experiment works for the most part: The dangerous devices of shifting POV and narrative voice hold together through the last two-thirds of Soulless Monk. With the shifting chronology, however, the narrative at the beginning of Soulless Monk shakes apart the novel’s intuitive flow.
Another difficulty is the choice of Arizona as Soulless Monk‘s primary setting. As a southwest author based out of Arizona, my home state was alien to me. This won’t be an issue for readers unfamiliar with the area; however, once Farish zooms the reader into the action, the distraction of trying to figure out the settings’ locations tends to fall away.
Despite these problems, I was barely able to gulp a breath after one chapter before I was engrossed by the next. While it isn’t a tension-building occult thriller like Junior Inquisitor, Soulless Monk is an action-packed occult adventure worth the read and the ride. The Inquisitor Series and its individual novel arcs are strong; Farish’s paranormal occult world of horror is populated with both the fierce and the fantastic. He tells a damned good tale of grisly terror in Soulless Monk, and I look forward to the next installment of Lincoln Farish’s Inquisitor Series.