Reviewed by Johnny Butane
Written by Sarah Pinborough
Published by Leisure Books
I’ll just be honest about it right up front; Sarah Pinborough is one of my favorite new authors working today. To date none of the novels she’s released through Leisure have disappointed me, so when a new one comes along I’m going in with high expectations. Tower Hill doesn’t meet all of those expectations like I had hope it would, but it’s still a solid story about evil come to a small town.
In this case, the evil is in the form of two lifelong criminal friends who, at some point in their travels, came across something that changed their lives, so much so that they head to the small town of Tower Hill, one posing as a priest and one posing as a teacher, quickly integrate themselves in the town, and prepare to unleash a real, brutal evil that they believe will make them gods.
As the whole town is affected by the evil duo, two students, Liz and Steve, slowly begin to realize that all is not right in this quiet little town. People are acting stranger and stranger, caring not at all for their appearance and insisting that church is the only place worth going to when they’re not sleeping. The students have to put their heads together and find out what the hell is going on before everyone in town becomes a mindless zombie, meat for the beast that is about to be unleashed.
Now, while that sounds like a lot of fun, one of my biggest problems with Tower Hill is that it just moves too slow. The two bad guys are the most charismatic of the cast of characters but we spend very little time with them, mainly because Pinborough tries to keep the full implications of what they’ve brought to Tower Hill on the down low until the reveal in the book’s conclusion. The characters we do spend time with, Liz and Steve, just aren’t all that interesting I’m sorry to say.
Liz comes from a very religious background, her parents whisking her and her sister away to an island when they were very young and not allowing them much contact with the outside world. Dan is from the mean streets of Detroit, or so he says, but nothing about his personality really fits someone from the kind of neighborhood he claims to have grown up in. Of course a romance blossoms between the two of them, which is almost a requirement for Leisure Books these days.
But that’s just the bad stuff; there’s still a lot to like about Tower Hill. Though it’s definitely too long and slow, there are some moments of pure evil genius that make me dig what Sarah’s all about. The muffins that are made with blood, which then turn anyone who eats them into a blind follower, is pretty sick. But most impressive is just what those two evil men are hoping to accomplish, and Sarah’s ability to keep that information from us until the absolute last second. Though there’s not a lot of out-and-out “horror” throughout Tower Hill, the ending more than makes up for it as a lot of people meet very nasty ends.
All in all Tower Hill is, like I said, a solid story that’s just a bit too long. Some more time spent developing the characters within would’ve likely helped a lot, as well. It’s not Sarah’s strongest book, but even a weak book from her is better than a strong one from a lot of the authors out there today.
3 out of 5
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