Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Book of the Month
Spencer L Casey lives in Northern California and has been writing since he was in Primary School. ‘Dalia’s Fire’, his first full length work of fiction, combines his love of horror and thriller in a fast paced supernatural page turner reminiscent of Dean Koontz.
The book centres on Dalia, a young woman, and her estranged father Jay. Dalia is pregnant, but can’t remember who the father is until he comes calling for his offspring. She disappears and Jay’s home in the mountains burns in a raging fire impossible to put out. Suspected of murder, and plagued by visions, Jay has to find his daughter - and soon to be granddaughter - before it is too late. Can this curmudgeon recluse get anyone to help him?
‘Dalia’s Fire’ starts strong and hooked my interest from the first page. The pace, apart from the occasional blip, rolls forward with gathering intensity, making it very hard to put the book down. The characters are likeable and well written and I cared about them, often shouting at the book to egg Jay on to action or worrying for Dalia in her hardship. I found the character of Dalia particularly appealing. She is a young woman who lost herself in drink, drugs and debauchery to escape the pain of life but, during the course of the novel, slowly wakes up to her behaviour and matures. The antagonist (who I won’t name here for fear of spoilers) was also one of my favourite characters. The pages sizzle every time he appears and he is evil, tempered with enough depth to make him human.
The supernatural elements, hinted at from the beginning, come into their own in the middle and latter parts of the book. As a fan of the paranormal, this extra string to the story line increased my interest in the novel. Spencer weaves the supernatural story into the plot well, without damaging the believability of the realistic modern day setting or reducing the story line to fantasy. The supernatural element itself is new and refreshing and while I did not agree with some of the rules of its universe, they were complete and well told.
By the end of the book it becomes obvious that the central theme is love – something that Spencer is quite open about in his books. Love a parent has for a child, love a man has for a woman, love we all have for our environment. This made the story stronger for me, and the ending is fantastic, wrapping up the threads with a satisfying, and emotional climax, leaving just enough of a hint about things that may or may not come in the future that you are left wanting more.
This was the first book of Spencer L Casey that I’ve read and he is an author I will look out for in the future. His fast paced writing, strong characters and emotionally satisfying plot are exactly what I look for in a book and once you find an author who delivers, it is good to hang on to them.
‘Dalia’s Fire’ is a highly enjoyable, entertaining piece of fiction. If you enjoy thrillers, and especially ones with a different edge such as the works of Dean Koontz or Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, then I think this book is for you. It is currently available from Lulu and Amazon. Its ISBN is 0557033470 and is 298 pages long. $1 from every book sold goes to fire relief or fire prevention in California. To learn more about Spencer L Casey, read my interview of him here.