Double novels aren’t something you see very often, although they do seem to be most popular with science fiction publishers. On occasion, you’ll see one pop up. Or, in my case, have one delivered to your mailbox for review. Such is the case with Cradle of the Dead by Roger Jackson and Dark Waves by Simon Kearns. This review is for Cradle of the Dead only, but you can read my article on Dark Waves here.
Cradle of the Dead follows Paul Wren, a criminal who works for a man named Baxter. On Christmas Eve, Baxter requests his presence, along with another man named Markham, at an old asylum called Alderville, where a doctor had once performed bizarre brain experiments. It is here that Baxter likes to torture people who’ve wronged him – such as Vince, who’s also along for the ride. Once everyone is gathered, and some surprises are dealt, all hell breaks loose… Who – or what – is running this asylum?
I’m a sucker for haunted asylum stories, and Cradle of the Dead delivered. This short novella packs more punch than books twice its length. Cradle of the Dead takes several twists and turns that the reader may or may not see coming, but they are powerful all the same. The characters are well-defined and likeable, or hateable, and I enjoyed that they weren’t just Average Joes and averagely boring. The story unfolds quickly and with a to-the-point style that makes this a one-sitting read.
My only complaint is that I wish the violence had been more visceral, especially once you find out just how the haunting manifests itself. There were plenty of chances to add some gory goodness.
Regardless, Cradle of the Dead is a quick and fun book that’ll certainly please fans of supernatural horror, or anyone who wants to see an asylum run by something other than doctors and inmates.
Cradle of the Dead is available from Blood Bound Books in paperback (coupled with Dark Waves) and e-book.