Published by Black Bed Sheet Books
Nocturnal Offerings by French-Canadian author Alan Draven is a fast-paced and exciting book about a missing brother, witchcraft, gruesome murders, a strange gated community and a mysterious carnival which comes to the equally mysterious town of Bitternest, Louisiana, about which the author has written before. This novel, however, spends most of its time in Montreal, Canada, where the protagonist, Nick Kubrick, Bitternest’s resident DJ and ghostbuster, is searching for his brother, who hasn’t been heard from in months.
Meeting an old friend from his hometown, Nick is introduced to the gated community of Elysium Cove (oddly referred to in the book as “the Elysium Cove”) and its strange residents. All of them are under forty, handsome and beautiful to an extreme, but no children are to be seen anywhere.
While researching the Cove, he meets librarian Monica, who, after hearing Nick’s story, decides to help him in his hunt for his brother as well as his search for what is going on in town. There are strange people following them, an altar in the woods around the Cove, a pursuit by creatures protecting the witches and finally, both Nick and Monica, along with an elderly associate, the obviously named Herbert West, are subjected to a sacrificial ritual that doesn’t go well for some of those involved.
Everything is resolved in Montreal at the end of the book’s first part, and then it’s back to Bitternest for the brief part two. A creature is skinning people alive, and it’s up to Nick and private investigator Jim Coffin to find out what is going on. So it’s off to the Danvers Traveling Carnival to interview employees there as Coffin and Nick have discovered that this creature goes to ground for twenty-seven years and then comes out to kill for nine days, the same time the carnival is in any given place.
As you can tell, this book is full of horror references in its characters’ names: Kubrick, West, Mrs. Danvers, Coffin, as well as movie references courtesy of DJ/ghostbuster Nick Kubrick, who has his own radio show, “The Chilling Hour.” So Nocturnal Offerings is fun for horror fans who can look for the obvious as well as the less obvious horror references in the book (Jeepers Creepers, anyone?). And there is plenty of gore and sex for those so inclined as well.
Now for the bad news. Nocturnal Offerings needed an editor – a GOOD editor. There are FAR too many instances of characters “pursing (their) lips,” kissing women’s hands or having “silly grins” on their faces, just for starters. And the author uses vocabulary that is obviously something he found in a dictionary and thought looked impressive: “delimiting” and “cadastral,” for instance. Granted, (American) English is not the author’s first language, but a good editor could have advised better wording or sentence structure.
While reading the book, I used a pen to mark all of the errors, and almost every page has at least one mistake – not typos all of the time, but repetitive phrases, awkward sentence structure, bizarre wording (a head bursting like a “vulgar watermelon”?) and obscure vocabulary (where does one find the term “fornicating” outside of the Bible or the TV show “Salem”?).
As I said earlier, the novel’s plot is VERY good, but all of the errors may take you out of the story, which I’m sure is not what Draven intended. Perhaps it can be reissued in a better edited format at some point in the future.
So pick up a copy of Nocturnal Offerings if you want an interesting story with plenty of horror references, but be warned about the editorial problems.
2 1/2 out of 5