“The Second Coming” – by David H. Burton

The Second Coming CoverSet in a post-apocalyptic earth, The Second Coming is the introduction to an ‘in progress’ series named Words of the Prophecy. Centuries after the Earth shifted on its axis nearly wiping out mankind and unleashing all manner of dark and otherworldly creatures, a long-prophesied event has occurred, one that threatens the remainder of humanity.

Burton has provided a suitably dark world for the reader to explore and he paints it innovatively.  There is a real play with mythology and religious history and prophecy. Instead of being completely inventive, the author has used existing lore to cleverly fashion new possibilities. Additionally, the author never attempts to create the blinding (and sometimes boring) light of goodness in any of his creation. The best one could hope for was a grey or darker and this is an approach I can really appreciate.

The characters were hopelessly flawed and even the main protagonists could not be easily cast in the hero role. Again, this is an aspect of a story I can enjoy as I like temptation and struggle. In this story, there are probably three main characters which meet as three disparate story lines eventually intertwine. It’s a fairly typical story mechanism but it does allow us to explore each of these characters in detail as each journey progresses. There are also several secondary characters which add interest and sometimes smaller story arcs to compliment the main plot. In fact, the overall web of characters in this novel becomes quite complex with all manner of intersecting relationships being revealed over the course of the story.

The plot, although derived from familiar elements, has a feel that is quite unfamiliar. The unified church of the new world has ties with all kinds of practices otherwise seen as pagan. The evangelical church of the former U.S.A. is viewed as somehow sinister and similarly contradictory in its practices.  Elf-like creatures seem to be biblical in origin and the wild and harsh gods of nature do not necessarily represent evil – although everything demands a price. Sometimes, this alien territory was confusing and I wasn’t sure I always understood all the connections being made. Several elements of the tale, I felt, were left incomplete by the end of the book. Given that this was to be a series, I can’t hold this against the author. It’s likely these are to be played out in future volumes.

The prose flows very well and I often found myself picturing various scenes of despair vividly. The story line starts slowly but completes in a rush of pounding action and several fairly dizzying changes in one of the main characters. I’m still not certain that I completely followed the development of Paine, especially towards the end of the book. What he was, what he became was a little confusing in the end, but the author had chosen to make his origins and his destiny quite complex. It will be quite interesting to see how he plays out in subsequent novels.

I have read David H. Burton before and have thus far enjoyed all his stories. He manages to present a world I want to explore, characters I want to follow and story lines that remain interesting and The Second Coming is no exception. I would recommend this to all who like their fantasies dark and desperate.

Rating: 4/5

Price at the time of review: $4.95 US

Available: Amazon, Smashwords, Diesel, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, WH Smith, Waterstones

Author site: http://davidhburton.com/
GoodReads page: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7796909-the-second-coming

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