This past month has been more than raucous and if I were to relate some of the situations I've landed in, people would accuse me of telling stories. To escape this world, whenever possible, I've sought refuge in reading. When Steven Katriel generously offered a preview copy of his debut novel, The Portrait of Alatiel Salazar, I snapped his hand off.
I was entranced within the first few paragraphs. Following the grand tradition of gothic writers, Mr Katriel creates a twilight world from which you won't easily escape. The Portrait of Alatiel Salazar is a masterful tour de force of Gothic mystery and macabre: Throughout, dark sinister prose and even stranger unexplainable happenings hypnotise and immerse the reader into this fascinating and wildly imaginative tale of horror.
At times, there is a deliberate confusion. Is the narrator mad? Does the evil only exist in men's hearts? Exactly what is the true nature of Cristian Salazar? Events unfold and secrets are revealed at a satisfyingly brisk pace – or maybe it was me, anxiously turning pages, desperate to discover what on earth (or in hell) would happen next.
This is easily the most original novel I've read this year. The theme manages to be reminiscent of the great gothic writers: Bronte, Edgar Allan Poe, Mary Wollstonecroft-Shelley, et al while exploring a fresh approach on possession, from three points of view: Those watching, those being possessed, and finally the demon who slowly but surely takes possession of tortured souls.
The Portrait of Alatiel Salazar by Steven Katriel (published by Immortal Ink) will be released later this month. Visit the author's website for more details.