“Clara Grey’s parents once said that the world was a dark and dangerous place. There was more truth than fiction to those words. There were things that lurked in the shadows which defied the laws of nature: perversions that fed on the dead, terrorised the living, or escaped the chill touch of the grave.
Clara is a member of the Tower, a religious order of hunters who work outside the confines of the Church. As keepers of the arcane, her order takes an active role to counter these threats. The life of a hunter can be short, and many disappear before their training is completed. So, what does it take to succeed against all odds?
Explore Clara’s origin, a child born before the dawn of the twentieth century. Witness her rigorous training, how she faces adversity, and fights in the Great War to become the derringer wielding flapper she is.
Throughout her tale, keep in mind that no matter the threat, a gal has to look out for herself after all.”
I was impressed by the author’s vocabulary, sentence structure, and overall grammar which is all clearly quite educated. The writing style in that regard as well as the time period in which the story is set made me happily reminiscent of the classic novels I grew up on. The reader is introduced to Clara, a superbly gifted and strong-minded little girl whose family are the unfortunate victims of a pretty shitty situation, nestled in poverty and run-ins with some nasty creatures.
In the beginning, everything about the story is excellent, including the freshness of Clara’s personality. Rather than be frightened or uncertain as most children are or would be with what she’s had to experience, she never fails to be powerful in both body and mind. Separated from her sisters, she is sent to train as a ‘hunter’ in a secret order controlled by the church tasked with protecting the world from such beasts as vampires and ghouls.
Although Chartres does well in presenting everything in a unique matter, it is at this point in the story that I have a complaint. Like I said, the beginning was great and I will tell you that the ending is as well. The story’s conclusion sums up the underlying message of the title’s mentioned paradox in a somewhat depressing yet beautiful and relatable way.
It’s the middle of the story I wasn’t too pleased with and that’s hard for me to say because I had this huge mental debate with myself and my wife about it. The author is clearly very intelligent so I couldn’t at first understand how they wrote such a perfect beginning (and as I found later, ending) but there was little substance to the rest in comparison. I then realized that it is real possibility that this was all intentional in order to stress the message and philosophical ideas (which I won’t spoil) behind the story, if you take the time to hear them.
That being said, the book was genuinely great and had many interesting concepts, but I personally believe it would have greater impact (at least on myself) if the middle had been shortened. I reached a point where I felt like I was trudging through which oddly enough is how I think I was supposed to feel since it was later shown that this was what Clara was feeling about life herself.
Initially, I felt that there should have been more emotion portrayed in the story. For instance, after Clara is separated from her family within those initial heart-breaking string of events, we never hear mention of them or her inner turmoil/longings again until the very end which aids in making her character to begin coming off as almost sociopathic. But then I realized that this ‘trudging’ atmosphere of muddling through could very well be the author’s tactic to show instead of tell the character’s mental state.
The book tackles concepts of morality, ethics, religion and more which is as anyone who knows me knows, is one of my favored studies. Life’s gray areas in the matters of individual perspective and experience that shape one’s outlook on what is right or wrong and what is fair, will always be of high importance to me and this author explores these things in an entertaining tale.
As with all things, this is simply my perspective which you should take with a grain of salt. Evelyn Chartres has published two other books at this time, which I fully intend on checking out as when all was said and done, I did enjoy “The Van Helsing Paradox.”
Also find Evelyn Chartres’ other work and follow their profile to receive email notifications when new stories are published here: https://amzn.to/2PD5ZKK
Thank you for reading and please stay tuned for future reviews.
~Sahreth ‘Baphy’ Bowden