The Chain (The Apex Predator Journals #1) By S.A. Mckernan

    When Reaper Demonweaver meets a Deity, all of his questions regarding the mythology of life and death as well as the Apocalyptic war that demolished most of his planet, are answered. Not long after, the prophesied siege begins and the mythical demons return to ravish his beloved city, Echo Sublimity. As Reaper finds himself caught in the chaos he is left questioning his convictions, his life, his Deity, and himself. The Chain (The Apex Predator Journals #1)

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    Going in, I knew from blurbs and excerpts that content-wise, this story was far from my cup of tea, so far that I couldn't even catch sighting of my wheelhouse while reading this. So I really had to step back and put on my critic's hat and attempt to put my own personal tastes and preferences aside. With that hat firmly in place, I found this to be an extremely well-conceived and written vision of an apocalyptic world where some very unpleasant things happen. In spots there is great cruelty and very graphic violence of a nature befitting a world of Deities, Crusaders, Lashers, and Demi-gods. And if that is not enough to make a lot of people uncomfortable, some gender ambiguity and relationships might, as they did, me. And yet…

    This writer is very talented, penning a fast-flowing narrative filled at times with an elegant, descriptive delicacy that read like Georgette Heyer had been thrown into a dungeon and gone mad. It is to the writer's credit that this is such a meticulously crafted, darkly intoxicating read, because it is really an unpleasant world most would not wish on their worst enemy. Echo Sublimity is the backdrop for the story, heavy metal music driving it forward, dark, mythical winged creatures called the Begotton punctuating it as they return to ravish and plunder both Echo Sumlimity and its inhabitants. If they can, of course.

    All of these events, past and present, are centered around Reaper Demon Weaver - everyone has this type of name in Predator, it is that kind of story. Meticulously showing the family structure while slowly exposing us to the nature and culture of Echo Sublimity, the reader cannot help but be enthralled when in the chapter, Beyond the Chasm, a sexy strawberry-haired Deity arrives and explains to Reaper - and the reader - how she created this world and how the war started with the Begotton.

    A brief respite at the beach for many of the characters is welcomed by the reader, the surfing and beach-babe atmosphere like an offer of cold water on a scorching day. Yet it is not enough to sober us from the dark intoxication of this world, which is about to get hedonistically violent and cruel when a kidnapping occurs and the Begotton return. At this juncture, the reader is witness - unless they skip some of it - to some horrific scenes of same-gender rape and heartless violence. Even as Reaper and his friends and lovers - yeah, it's plural - strike back, we see the difference between the two groups almost become blurred, causing Reaper to question everything he believes.

    While I find many aspects and occurrences in this world to be unpleasant or downright repulsive, I find the writing and world-building of the author to be excellent, and as mentioned, darkly intoxicating, like the scent of Mambo. I do think that there will be those who love this to death, however. The author makes clear this is not for the sensitive. Those into heavy metal, dark and extremely graphic horror, winged creatures and Deities, however, will no doubt be eager in the worst way to revisit this world for the next installment - there is a teaser at the back. Being somewhat older, and having an aversion to many of the happenings here, I am obviously not the demographic for this book. Yet, I have no doubt whatsoever that those enamored of the aforementioned, will find something several cuts above anything of this nature they've been reading, and follow this series closely. Paperback From its alluring cover to the final words ... this dark and psychologically horrific first installment will rip you through a range of emotions. Violent, seductive, and enthralling. Mckernan's talents are undeniable! Pick up a copy ... then see why I am ravenous for more. Paperback