Lebo Coven, The (Book)

Barry Riggs returns to his hometown of Aiken Mill when he learns of his brother’s disappearance in The Lebo Coven. His brother’s home has been ransacked, and the word “Lebo” is painted in cow’s blood on the wall of the master bedroom. Shortly thereafter, Barry discovers himself tangled in a web of mystery and intrigue that presents the dark forces in the world as a tangible threat.

The plot of this book is straightforward and fast paced, combining many of the common elements of horror into one disturbing piece. It is a familiar tale about a man returning to the city of his birth only to find that home is not what it used to be. His brother, to whom he hasn’t spoken in seven years, is missing and seems to be involved in shady dealings that somehow involve the occult. Unable to get help from the lethargic town sheriff, Barry finds an unlikely ally in a girl he used to torment as a child. Thrown into the mix is the proverbial stranger, the mention of whose name gives the major character chills, and many tight-lipped locals, none of whom seem willing to do anything but drink beer and commit mayhem.

This book suffers from several maladies, none of which are fatal on their own. There are a great many instances where the blanket term “Satanist” is thrown around with long expositional monologues explaining the various nuances of Jewish Kabbalahism and Pagan influences, many of which seem based on movie stereotypes. Great leaps in logic are also made by the lead characters, detracting from the overall flow of the story.

The most glaring problem with The Lebo Coven comes from the characters’ dialogue. Many of the characters in this book, lead and supporting, are relatively uneducated country folks. Some drink themselves into a stupor every night, and others comment on their self-induced brain damage. It is, therefore, surprising to find so many of the characters, all of them in fact, speaking in not only perfect English, but formal proper English to boot. Rainey takes great care in describing the characters, down to the length of their hair and the smell of alcohol that pours off them, making the readers feel their realism, but the illusion is shattered within one line of dialogue.

That is not to say that The Lebo Coven is not without merit. Rainey provides beautiful descriptions of the landscape around him and manages to focus the reader on the most gruesome and macabre of details. At certain times he dangles bits of information in front of the reader before dancing away, making us think he knows more than he really does. When the truth finally comes out, the reader will not have seen it coming. Also evidenced here is Rainey’s own delightful sense of humor.

Through the problems, there still remains the story – and a good one it is. There are still enough chills and twists in this book to satisfy horror fans, and it stands alone on its own merit.

The Lebo Coven
Stephen Mark Rainey
Five Star Press, 2004
276 pages

3 out of 5

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Jon Condit

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