Author Mary Maddox combines the best of horror-suspense and page-turning thriller with a hint of supernatural in her disturbing, yet entertaining debut, Talion.
A killer descends on Hidden Creek Lodge, one that needs to kill like others need food or the attention of a lover. Not new to murder, Conrad Sanders takes a sick pleasure in his ritual of torture and brutality. Sanders checks into the lodge using an alias; his appearance, average, unassuming, and forgettable.
Meanwhile, Lisa Duncan is staying with her Uncle Hank and Aunt Debbie, the owner-operators of the lodge. Back home Lisa is a popular teen with beauty queen good looks. Her parents sent her to the lodge for the summer as they believed she had fallen in with the wrong crowd. Bored and cut off from her friends, she explores her surroundings and meets Lu Jakes.
Lu keeps to herself, hiding in her room behind her glasses. She lives with an alcoholic father, Duane, and a severely abusive step-mother, Noreen. Normally, Lisa wouldn’t be seen with such a girl . . . but there is no one else to hang out with so she invites Lu swimming. Nearby Lu for most of the story is a trio of otherworldly beings. Lu is in communication with her beloved Talion, and is aware of his companions, Delatar, and Black Claw. Author Maddox is able to keep the reader guessing if these creatures are imagined, the products of a mentally ill mind, or if they are, in fact, supernatural entities. Sanders has already set his ghoulish sites on Lisa. When he notices Lu, he believes he can set the friends against each other in a wicked two-for-one slaying. Sanders makes his move and fully expects an easy kill; however, his experience and planning can’t prepare him for what only Lu can see . . . .
Mary Maddox uses back story effectively with ample transition to show her audience what kind of a monster Sanders has become and from where his darkness originated. Her description of the murders is shocking, gory, and yet not over the top. She is skilled at turning up the tension and kept me riveted throughout. Lisa and Lu are interesting, well-drawn protagonists, and Sanders is a villain as horrible as he is captivating. All the ingredients are included for a frightening, enjoyable read for those who like their fiction dark. I would have liked to have seen the Talion character take on a larger role in the plot, but this is a minor complaint.
I highly recommend Talion and . . . I urge to you read it with the lights on!
— Wilson R., Amazon