Book Reviews

{Review} DEVIL’S ISLAND, by Mark Lukens

{Review} DEVIL’S ISLAND, by Mark LukensDEVIL'S ISLAND by Mark Lukens
Published by Amazon Digital Services on February 22, 2017
Genres: Dark Fiction, Fiction, Horror, Mystery, Occult & Supernatural, Paranormal, Psychological Horror, Supernatural
Pages: 364
Format: eBook
Buy on Amazon

Devil's Island ... an abandoned island in the Caribbean Sea with a dark and bloody past ... an island with a terrible secret ...

Nick Gorman, billionaire movie producer, assembles a team of ghost hunters and scientists to investigate the Thornhill Manor on Devil's Island - the most haunted place in the world that no one's ever heard of. He's there to find proof of ghosts, evidence of an afterlife ... but he's also there to uncover the secret that is hidden on the island ... to possess it.

The ghost hunting team is led by Shane Edwards who lost his TV show in a scandal and now is a disgrace in the ghost hunting world; this is his chance to redeem himself and revive his career. But as soon as he steps foot on Devil's Island, he realizes that the fears from the Cranston House, a house he and his friend entered on a dare when they were twelve years old, fears he thought he had overcome, are all coming back. And everyone on the team is facing their darkest fears, the island somehow bringing them to life.

As Nick gets closer to unearthing the secret on the island, Shane begins to wonder if any of them will survive their two night stay on Devil's Island.

Contains: some strong language, slight violence and gore.

DEVIL’S ISLAND, by Mark Lukens, is probably my favorite novel that I’ve read by him, to date. He combines the most desolate, eerie atmosphere along with a cast of well-defined characters–inventing a story that was impossible to pull myself out of once I had started.

“. . . there was something on this island, something very bad . . .”

Billionaire producer and directer, Nick Gorman, has had an unhealthy obsession with the place known as Devil’s Island for years. The large, gothic Thornhill Manor–empty for nearly 70 years–still stood, a testament to the evil legacy of torture and depredation that it was rumored to have been built upon. When a run of “accidents” paves the way for Nick to finally acquire the island, he wastes no time in recruiting a team to film a ghost-hunting documentary, with the intent of proving the existence of an afterlife of some sort.

“. . . What is reality?”

Aided by his competent assistant, Kristen, we soon have a formidable group of individuals, including a former Ghost Hunter, a scientist, a spiritual “Finder”, a one-man-camera-crew, the token skeptic, and another–unexplained–member of the group. Nick’s instructions are only ever in the most vague of terms, leaving one to constantly wonder what fuels his fevered fixation with this plot of land that most avoid at all costs.

“. . . this island you’re going to, it’s a very bad place . . . the dead don’t stay dead there . . .”

Lukens does a fantastic job of introducing the readers to each and every character he brings on board. Not once did I find myself confusing one for another, as each felt every bit as real to me as someone I had known for years. In my opinion, great characterization is most often a crucial component to a truly memorable story. If the “people” are real in your mind, their situations will linger on long after you’ve finished reading that final page. They become “live”, themselves, and through them, the author’s story will keep coming back to–hopefully–haunt you. One thing I quickly picked up on here was that: “. . . Nick Gorman was a different animal altogether . . . “

“. . . here we are, spending the night in the most haunted place in the world that no one’s ever heard of . . . “

Another key element in the making of an unforgettable novel is an unmistakable setting, or atmosphere, that consumes the reader along with all of the characters.

“. . . It seems like there’s this dark and evil aura around this place.”

From the start, when our crew is literally dumped off on the island, the magnitude of the isolated land’s haunted legacy of corruption and wanton evil is immediately felt. Even the reader can sense this darkness.

“. . . Terrible things had happened on that island and in that manor . . . “

The truly “crowning moment” where the dread first hit me the hardest was once they got their first real look at the monstrous manor that Thaddeus and Constance Thornhill had erected.

“. . . even with all the rot and decay, the building seemed to exude a kind of strength, like it was playing hurt, pretending to be weaker than it really was, feigning vulnerability to entice people inside its (mouth) front doors . . . “

With evocative prose like the above, it was near impossible NOT to feel as though the reader was an actual participant in this expedition. Lukens doesn’t overwhelm with a lot of overtly graphic and gory scenes, but rather leads the reader to come to their own “visions” of the true horror that is recounted in little “history lessons”, which Nick dishes out in intervals. This is a tactic that I felt worked particularly well in a novel of this kind, as often my own imagination can conjure up horrors even more disturbing than any “written word” could convey so vividly.

“. . . There might be other things roaming in this manor, but none of those things were alive anymore . . .”

By breaking up and giving select tidbits about the island’s past, we’re given enough fuel to believe–in this isolated environment–that nothing is impossible. In my humble opinion, fears that cannot be concretely named are the most effective in building up–and sustaining–an impenetrable sense of terror that lingers.

“. . . You don’t understand what you’re playing with. But you will . . . you’ll understand everything very soon.”

As for the precise manner of haunting I felt . . . all I will add is that Lukens managed to surpass even my own expectations in the end–and in a most satisfying way. This is a book I look forward to re-reading in the future, and one whose’s “ideas” are still floating around in my mind.

Highly recommended!

About Mark Lukens

Mark Lukens has been writing since the second grade when his teacher called his parents in for a conference because the ghost story he’d written had her a little concerned.

Since then he’s had several stories published and four screenplays optioned by producers in Hollywood. One script is in development to be produced. He is the author of many bestselling books including: Ancient Enemy, Darkwind: Ancient Enemy 2, Descendants of Magic, The Summoning, Night Terrors, Sightings, The Exorcist’s Apprentice, What Lies Below, Devil’s Island, The Darwin Effect, Ghost Town: a novella, and A Dark Collection: 12 Scary Stories. He is a member of The Horror Writers Association.

He grew up in Daytona Beach, Florida. But after many travels and adventures, he settled down near Tampa, Florida with his wonderful wife and son … and a stray cat they adopted.

He loves to hear from readers! He can be found on Facebook at Mark Lukens Books, on Twitter at @marklukensbooks, and you can follow his blog at www.marklukensbooks.wordpress.com. He can be reached by e-mail at mark@marklukensbooks.com.

Kimberly

I am an avid reader/reviewer and collector of books--primarily horror, supernatural, and supernatural-themed thrillers.

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