Monday, June 2, 2008

Fires Rising

Having read Michael Laimo’s Atmosphere (his first novel) and The Demonologist, I was looking forward to his most recent book, Fires Rising. According to the buzz on message boards, it was supposed to be a major step for Laimo, and highly important to his career. Since I enjoyed his earlier work, I felt sure I would be impressed by this one. Although the novel has received mostly praise in reviews, I’m afraid my experience with it was somewhat more unsatisfactory.

Fires Rising is the story of a church in New York, the site of ancient unspeakable rituals. Workmen demolishing the church discover a buried artifact, and unleash an ancient evil. All of this is fairly familiar territory for a horror novel. A group of homeless men who shelter in the abandoned church ban together to fight the evil, and apparently they have been called by the opposing force. The evil apparition has largely possessed the workmen tasked to tear down the church. The forces of good are led by Father Pilazzo, an older priest who has managed to retain his faith.

The book just doesn’t work for me, and I don’t understand why. It has received largely favorable reviews from most people, but I had to read it off and on for three weeks to get through it. It’s strange that it took so long, since the whole thing is one extended action sequence, with little time wasted in character development. Oh, and do you remember the Poop Monster from Kevin Smith’s movie Dogma? Laimo uses exactly the same creation in this book to menace the good guys, but it comes off as more humorous than intense. Another irritating point is the teenage boy on the good guys side seems to go in and out of adult dialogue whenever the story needs a little exposition.

Like I’ve said, I’ve enjoyed the earlier work I’ve read by Michael Laimo, and I seem to be one of the few reviewers that didn’t care for Fires Rising. I hope it does well for Laimo’s sake, and I’ll give him another try with his next book.

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