The bohemian setting of Czechoslovakia is the perfect stage for this rich and macabre tale of a young doctor taking a new assignment at Hrad Orlu asylum for the criminally insane, in order to prove his controversial Devil Aspect theory. Dr Viktor Kosarek believes that a ‘devil aspect’ exists in everyone (meaning the Devil himself is in us all) and it is this part of our psyche that assumes control, allowing actions and behaviors that the individual him or her self is unaware of (much like a multiple personality situation). The asylum, which holds the 6 most feared killers of the time (the Devil Six), used to be the castle of the abominable and feared Jan of the Black Heart (who himself was considered the Devil.) His heinous, deplorable actions, and the legends surrounding his entombment in the castle, are still feared by the villagers.
Adding to that fear is the rumors of tunnels leading from the asylum out to the town, lending for the Devil (or any of the Devils 6) to escape, claim his victims, and return unseen. Through the authors magic, you will feel the dampness of the castle walls and you will breathe the fetid air of its tunnels right along with the characters.
Meanwhile, police kapitan Lukas Smolak is hunting for a killer. Dubbed ‘Leather apron.’ The killer has been targeting people on the outskirts of society in Prague. The methods of butchering his victims are similar to those employed by Jack the Ripper, and the author expertly interweaves Jack’s exploits and methods of torture with his own killer’s reign of terror in Prague.
The interviews between Viktor and his patients, (interviews where each describes their slaughter of their victims in detail,) makes for a beguiling and gruesome new horror thriller that drags you into its dark world kicking and screaming, crawls under your skin slowly, and then sticks in deep, like the tip of a butcher knife, carving into you a psychological horror you will remember long after you’ve closed the cover.
This is a kaleidoscope of myth, history, politics, bigotry, psychology, romance, crime, mystery, and sublime horror with each aspect taking turns directing the action, fighting for the readers attention, toying with readers sanity as they struggle to anticipate the shattering conclusion of this astonishing, virtuoso piece of gothic horror writing. The story is utterly immersive, authentically complex and completely propulsive, which all leads to compulsive page turning late into the night, rushing you toward that final, blood curdling sentence. This is a must read for all fans of literary fiction, great crime and horror writing, and I highly recommend you join Viktor in his quest to find The Devil Aspect. Just enter knowing that sometimes when you seek the Devil, he just might find you. Enjoy the ride my friends!
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