Friday, 1 January 2010

The Soul Slayer by Paul Doherty

1998, Headline
409 pages, Paperback
Personal Copy

Crime, historical

Cushions: 5
Daggers: 3
Paperclips: 3
Smiles: 2
Tissues: 1
Yunaleska's rating:♥♥♥♥♥

Summary taken from

In medieval folk lore, if a warlock can take out the heart of his victim before death, and the victim does not die in a state of grace, the warlock can call upon that soul to do his bidding.

In 1562, Queen Elizabeth has been on the throne for four years and the Protestant faith has been reaffirmed. In the village of Dunmow, eighteen-year-old Rebecca Lennox is neglected and feared by the other villagers, who regard her as cursed, by both her hare lip and her gift of second sight. Rebecca is constantly attracted to her old parish church, often going to pray there and talk to the statue of St Michael the Archangel. When a young Catholic priest, Michael St Clair, comes into the village in disguise, Rebecca is much taken by him; he is not repelled by her infirmity and his charm and gentleness remind her of her beloved statue. But Michael is not the only stranger who will change Rebecca’s quiet life forever.

The cover, small as it is due to the strangeness that is blogger, attracted my attention. It was only today that I looked at it properly and saw the spooky skull and masks which always creep me out. I saw it, thought 'green' and medieval looking. I read the back, thought 'sounds good' at the female protagonist, a misfit in society and popped it into the shopping basket.

As I picked it up yesterday, I did groan. Not one, not two, but 3 prologues. 3! I half wanted a fourth one. Personally 1 prologue is more than enough. The other two (or in fact all of them) could have been easily put as the first few chapters in a part on there own (there is more than one part to the novel). That aside, the prologues did set up the scene for the novel. I loved Rebecca's bravery, how she helps a wanted man when the hunter in question is staying at her father's inn. Part of me believes she was a little ditzy - I mean why help a stranger who could be a murderer? But then in those days when the only religion tolerated in England was (please forgive me if I get this wrong) Church of England, anyone else deserved to be helped because of the persecution they faced.

Not only does Rebecca get caught up in the drama involving the wanted man (St Clair), she comes into contact with the Soul Slayer (not that she knows who he is at first). One word springs to mind: evil. The Soul Slayer is evil. His little rituals are sick and twisted. I kept pulling faces at the crimes he did. Yet Rebecca's fate is inexplicably tied to his. She is the one who can stop him. But can she succeed when the Soul Slayer manages to gain allies in powerful countries?

The Soul Slayer has all characters, be they the hunters or the hunted travelling around England and Russia. Yes, i did say Russia. I didn't expect a change of continent, but it fitted with the story and worked well in creating a terrifying world for Rebecca. Once the Soul Slayer caught up with them, it became even more terrifying, something Rebecca's second sight visions permitted her a glimpse of.

I really enjoyed this book, how Rebecca and St Clair kept on being caught. The full story isn't really revealed until the end. An end, which was satisfactory, but means I shall not be reading the book again.


I'm not giving everything away. Rebecca does triumph over the Soul Slayer. She suffers personal loss. Everything was credible until St Clair revealed who he really was. My fondness of the book crumpled. I think there are just some conclusions which will never sit right with me, for personal reasons. I can understand how a lot of people would find the ending very enjoyable. I wasn't one of them - hence the four stars.

I thoroughly recommend the Soul Slayer. Check out Paul Doherty on his website.

Liked this? Try The Lady in the Tower by Marie-Louise Jensen

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