Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Sand Dragon, by Michael F. Stewart

Set in Canada , the story opens with the discovery of a large pterosaur skeleton at the site of Synthoil. Kim Axon is a paleontologist who arrives on site to preserve the skeleton, but immediately is at war with supposed archeologist Sebastian Blythell, who Kim suspects is not quite on the up and up. In the middle of the night, Blythell steals the skeleton, and Kim discovers there are secrets to this ancient land, secrets like vampires, dragons, and ancient tribal spirits. Also mixed up in all the madness are Patrick, a local meat cutter with a fondness for reptiles, and Jamie, a worker at Synthoil, with a fondness for women. The community is fractured due to the government’s treatment of the aboriginal population, as well as the shadow, or immigrant, population. When people start getting sick, and the sickness is traced back to the skeleton, sides must be picked. Which side will Kim end up on?

This book was a new journey for me, in a lot of different ways. While I am an avid horror reader, this book had slightly more of a science fiction or fantasy aspect than most horror books I read, so that was new. The setting was new, and completely foreign, so that took some getting used to. When I started chapter one, I felt a bit like a fish out of water, and was a little worried I would not acclimate well. By chapter four, I was completely hooked. Stewart made very real, relatable characters, even the ones whose background was so vastly different from my own. His ability as a storyteller is very sophisticated, to the point where I could not even imagine how hideous his monsters may have been, and yet, because of his wonderful descriptions, somehow, I could. It was the oddest sensation.

Some of the mythology is the book is familiar, yet told in very new ways. I do not want to speak to this too much, as I do not want to give away too many plot details, but suffice it to say, there were twists and turns that I did not see coming, right from the very beginning. The way it all comes together in the end is brilliant. This book is excellent for horror fans, and I can see fans of Stephen King and Michael Criton. I highly recommend this book to any horror fan, even if this is not your usual kind of book. It was a stretch for me, and I am glad for it.

This book was provided for review courtesy of the author.