The Legacy Charter Horror Horror Book Review
Featured Book Review: Darkbound
Darkbound is an amazing book. Michaelbrent Collings outdid himself with this book. It is not at all what I thought it would be. I took three nights to finish this book because I stayed up way past my bedtime. Darkbound was so suspenseful that I just kept on reading to…
Horror books Review
***WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS***
I had read this book when it first came out, and when I was about 10 years old. I saw it recently on my bookshelf and wondered why I didn’t have many memories about it, compared with other books I’d read at the time. So I blew the dust off the top edge, so to speak, and re-read the book. At first, it seemed decent enough, with an opening scenario I found rather interesting and a writing style that held my interest. But then, it started to betray its utter pointlessness in plot conception. The book took several diversions to introduce extra characters, and really the only point of these diversions was to try to introduce the new characters in “memorable” ways by using some lurid and violent episodes (which themselves are no doubt considered essential elements in works of the “modern” horror genre).
Things continued to progress decently until about half-way through, when the book takes on the predictable flavor of the “And then there were none” plot motif. Nevertheless, the writing style was still light and engaging enough to continue reading, but by the end, it was clear that the entire book was quite pointless. It has no essential theme that is worth writing a book around. It works neither as a cautionary tale about greed, and it’s not “scary” enough to satisfy as a horror-thriller book. Supernatural elements are never explained nor tied into any real point.
The gist of the plot is that a woman is selected… seemingly at random at first… to inherit great wealth and power, and some sort of supernatural powers (or the assistance of them). But in the end, we have to ask: “Why her? What’s the point?” Either she was simply related to a distant ancestor of the rich guy, and therefore her entire personality, behavior, and character was irrelevant to the Legacy she was granted (although the book really doesn’t seem to be making any statement about the dominance of one’s background over one’s individual personality) or she was somehow selected for her resemblance to that ancestor and we should thus be impressed with the rich guy’s ability to manipulate everything. Except that as the book proceeds, it’s made clear that there’s more than just a rich guy’s manipulations involved…there’s also some supernatural force at work.
One theme of the book therefore could have been to suggest that wealth/power is connected with dark supernatural forces, but these forces aren’t actually portrayed as particularly dark in spite of the fact that they murder people. Rather, our protagonist (Maggie) seemingly chooses to accept her fate with an inexplicable minimum of actually thinking it over, and with practically no explanation for readers, either in her character or in the narration itself, about the significance (either literal or metaphoric) about all the events that had transpired. At the end of the book, it is clear that various details of characterization were quite irrelevant, and various supernatural incidents are entirely unexplained, as well as important background and motivational aspects underlying the entire scenario. Maybe there was more to the original story and it was edited down to the “essentials” that mark it as a work in the thriller genre (yet are insufficient to make it satisfying as a full novel). This work is not only missing key explanatory material for its plot and character motivations, but is also missing details that would be essential for good literature - details that would tie (or at least suggest a tie between) the characters and plot and some sort of theme.
Therefore, the whole point of the book must simply be to function as a diverting entertainment, for which I suppose I could give it a two to three star rating if it were edited of its distasteful aspects involving sexual assaults and violent deaths. Otherwise, that seems to be considered the main point of the book, along with the presentation of numerous sex scenes. There really was the potential for something to be done with the characterizations that were developed in the first half of the book but then left to lie fallow and unused in the second half. There really was potential to use the scenario in the service of some sort of literary theme as well, but this was also left inexplicably undeveloped as the “action” picked up and replaced all the possible elements of substance in the scenario.
Although readable, I found in the end that I could only consider the book utterly trivial and a waste of some decent ideas that had potential. Apparently, the potential was unrecognized by the person who outlined the story idea, or else were edited out of that outline by some Hollywood person who didn’t see how they were relevant to the success of the movie being produced at the time? (This was a movie tie-in that actually came out just before the film itself had.) As it stands, this “novel” is simply an assemblage of standard “thriller” genre elements but without a real theme. It may thus be useful in English classes as an example of what NOT to do… Of why it is important for a writer to start with a PURPOSE that his scenario will serve, and to guide everything toward that purpose (or interesting sub-themes). And how, if a work is edited to the point where such themes become unsupported or invisible, the entire work rings hollow, and can only be responded to as a draft that “has some potential” but isn’t yet fleshed out enough to be publishable.
I don’t know which was the case here. Was this a fully-realized novel that was edited down by someone who didn’t understand the literary aspects of the original text? Or was this a cheaply outlined thriller work that had no real theme or purpose except to make money, to make a film out of, and whose details were then filled in by an author who did what he could but wasn’t given the chance to actually provide enough substance to become a real novel?
It probably doesn’t matter anymore. This is a fairly cheap tie-in with a mediocre movie, and both products made money for their producers. I think that was the entire point. This book is best for those who ask nothing of a book except that it hold the reader’s interest. If my ability to be intrigued and finish reading the book means that it should be given at least a 2 or 3 star rating, then please treat my rating in that way. If you don’t mind (or actually enjoy) reading superfluous scenes of violence and sex, then please treat my review as a 2 or 3 star rating. But in my opinion, that’s all that this book provides is a brief diversion.
Contrary to another review here, I cannot call the ending a “surprise ending” at all… the ending was surely the weakest part of the book, because at that point it becomes clear just how much the scenario is actually missing. The ending is very much the same as countless other works in this genre, only less credible because of insufficient character and motivational detail in the final quarter of the book. If it’s considered a “surprise” ending simply because it lacks any preliminary support, then I would suggest to other reviewers one of the fundamentals of screenwriting - that an ideal ending should appear to be simultaneously surprising and yet inevitable… that when you look back at the previous details you’d been given, you realize why the ending makes sense and how you’d been tricked into misperceiving certain things.
In this case, there is no such cleverness or depth. Simply shoddiness that requires readers to try to fill in the gaps with a sort of Rorshach-exercise. Is this work really worth this depth of analysis? Perhaps not, but I had to be thinking about something while reading these 250 pages, so I found that I might as well start imagining some extra depth or possibilities that simply never appeared in the actual book. If I have imagined up possible themes and ideas while reading the book, although they aren’t clearly established or explicated within the book, should the book be given the credit for encouraging my thoughts, or should I consider my own thoughts to be purely supplementary to a booking that I found quite lacking in clear substance?