I knew nothing about this book when a friend recommended it. In fact, when I opened to the first page, I expected a story steeped in the technological complexities of the dark web with some subtle social commentary on the value of anonymity on the internet and a cyberpunk vibe. In fact, based on the synopsis, I first tagged it as a “sci fi” read on Goodreads.
Instead, I found a creepy horror story set in Portland, Oregon that uses technology as a backdrop for demons who want to open a portal to hell. Not that technology and the dark web don’t play a part in the story because they do, particularly in the final third of the book. I can’t imagine anything more ominous than demons who are technologically savvy!
Interestingly however, the main character is completely technologically challenged. A journalist who lives for the story, I found Lela a slightly unlikeable character. Although I loved her “sidekick” - her dog, Hemingway. The cast of characters is rounded out with Lela’s blind niece Hannah who is outfitted with a prothesis called “Mirage” that allows her to see in a unique way, a formerly-corrupt televangelist now going by the name of Juniper and a mysterious woman who may (or may not) be immortal.
I really enjoyed the first part of the book as we meet all of the characters and start to get a glimpse of the horror to come. The epilogue is fantastic - I love where the author took the characters. I also really enjoyed the setting - I’ve had the pleasure of spending enough time in Portland on business that I recognize many of the landmarks, streets and of course, the truly amazing bookstore, Powell’s. If I have a criticism, it’s that there are a lot of characters to keep up with in a relatively short book (my edition is 253 pages including epilogue).
If you enjoyed Andrew Pyper’s The Demonologist or Joe Hill’s NOS4R2, you should consider picking this one up. It has the same creepy flavour and end of the world overtones, but be prepared for a faster pace and less character development.