Patrick closes his eyes to the only life he’s ever known and opens them to a new and dangerous world. In this Realm the newly dead from all over the universe are being hunted by a formidable race of giant beasts, the likes of which have never been seen by the living world.
Before long, he meets others from all over the universe that are doomed to live in this terrifying Realm with him. This place is like nothing he ever learned about in life; it is neither heaven nor hell, purgatory nor Sheol.
Patrick will encounter clusters of people huddled together for safety but he acts as a lone wolf – they don’t trust him, and perhaps with good reason.
He is key to the future of The Realm – Patrick must right old wrongs, and fight against all the terrors it has in-store. He must fight to save his family and, indeed, all of his descendants. His revelations will impact the living world as well as what comes after.
He is the future of humanity.
What People are Saying About The Realm:
“The Realm drops you into a bizarre and disturbing vision of the afterlife where the dead will never rest in peace. L. Marie Wood’s compulsively readable and fast-paced tale grabs you and doesn’t let go. Hang on tight!”
– Kirsten Imani Kasai, Author of The House of Erzulie
“L. Marie Wood has an exceptional ability to create compelling works of psychological horror in which the characters are deeply developed, the pacing flawless, and the suspense palpable.”
– Melinda Clayton, Author of Making Amends
As a voracious reader who reads way more than I write (I know, I know—maybe not the best confession to make!), it can be pretty difficult to keep an open mind to well-worn tropes and stock characters that are often executed in well-worn and predictable ways. How many different approaches can one arrange in stories when there’s absolutely nothing new under the sun? Can writers make fresh offerings to readers tired of the same old same?
Apparently, there’s at least one writer who can and did: L. Marie Wood.
In The Realm, Wood shows up and shows out with her lead character, Patrick and his engrossing navigation of Wood’s fresh interpretation of The Afterlife. In Patrick, we don’t get the banal hero who battles within himself more than he fights anything else. Yes, Patrick has his demons but he’d much rather destroy the rest of the monsters who are hurting everyone around him while he ruminates on his own character flaws. And these flaws are realistic and poignant, especially as we watch Wood deftly spin the trope of “the sins of the father” and “free will” into an inextricable explanation of Patrick’s human failings.
Wood’s artful rendition of The Afterlife is an intricate layering of details that show how life and afterlife exist in symbiosis, an intertwining so delicate the gray areas are often difficult to distinguish. A nuanced character such as Patrick and her cast of fully realized secondary characters would only choreograph their stories in this ultimate setting. Wood is a master world builder who introduces rules and boundaries that are easily understood and yet the reader understands that while nothing in The Realm is a free for all, almost anything can be possible for Patrick and his fellow inhabitants.
Indeed, I look forward to following Patrick through The Realm. And following Wood on any other journeys she wants to craft.
I will start with the statement that I am deeply bored with much of the state of horror writing.
It is either a formula that the author has developed (ie: a small New England town with an Alcoholic and a magical POC who is the font of all wisdom, or every protagonist is a sexy androgynous vampire including Jesus).
I will also admit to a feeling of trepidation when a friend asks me to read an review their work.
That said, I was very excited when a person I already knew had a talent with words was wading into the realm of Cosmic Terror. I was not disappointed.
Without indulging in spoilers, which is difficult for me because I feel like I want to talk about the exact moments of the plot which moved me the most to feel fear, I will outline a bit of the concept.
A man dies of violence and finds himself lost in a strange world quite unlike the afterlife described in any religious text. He is in The Realm, a strange netherworld where time and distance operate differently and where a deep forest exists, full of other doomed souls and monsters. All of this is presided over by a malevolent creature that finds pleasure in the suffering of his prisoners.
In this book the author brings the concepts of cosmic horror out of the purple prose and pulpy pages of the early 20th century and into a more internal, existential, and exhaustingly paced story for the 21st. There is gore, but it almost comes as a side event to the terror and wearying frantic pace of the characters in the dark and cold of the Realm. The prose is tight, intelligent, and doesn’t rely upon the cheap theatrics of all capital letters, or cliched metaphors. Even the use of omotopia is left to key moments and only when other words or phrases just won’t convey the idea.
I was, as a person familiar with the views of death found in Western society, found that there were refreshing moments in the story. Rather than some disembodied death, these souls are enfleshed, in their dimension at least. And their relationship with the living is far more complex and dynamic than one would think.
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