During a communion service at a village church, the teenage son of a vicar brutally attacks his father with an axe. The horrified congregation watch the son esape and during a frantic police search rumours arise that the boy was involved in devil worship. Professor Matt Hunter, an atheist ex-minister and expert on religion, is brought in to advise, yet he quickly suspects the church attack may have a far more complex cause.
Meanwhile, a ten-year-old boy called Ever grows up in a small Christian cult. The group believe they are the only true humans left and that the world is filled with demons called Hollows, but they’re working on a bizarre ritual that will bring peace and paradise to the world. Soon, the worlds of Matt and Ever will collide in one awful, terrifying night where Matt is thrown into the frightening and murderous world of religious mania.
As soon as I discovered that the detective in this novel was called Jill – I was sold I was delighted to be invited on the blog tour for this book by Anne Cater as I’m always happy to trust her judgement about my next read. It sounded really intriguing and after finishing it the first thing I did was go in search of everything else Peter Laws has written. It really was that good! Be warned though, if you like darkness, the macabre and an unsettling read then you’ve come to the right place…
I love Matt Hunter’s character: his family life and relationships are incredibly well drawn and really make you feel like you are being allowed into his world. His relationship with DS Jill Bowland is also very well done and their team dynamic is described in such a way as to make the story feel truly ‘real’ and make us root for them as they navigate some pretty macabre goings-on. I love that this book defies being pigeonholed into merely one genre – it manages to be a book that people who don’t love ‘straight’ crime novels would also love at the same time. This is largely down to Peter Laws’ skill in characterisation and ability to really keep you on the edge of your seat as things get dark and mysterious very quickly.
This is definitely a mystery to get your teeth into. The religious element brought something very unique to this mystery and the fact that religion is very much Peter Laws’ background gave this a really authentic and credible air. The taut and narrow timeline certainly adds to the tension as Matt and Jill battle to get to the bottom of these terrifying and disturbing events that unfold around them. Matt’s religious background gives him a unique insight into the world that Ever has grown up in and the very real dangers that he is exposed to. The darkness rising is nicely balanced with domestic detail and some genuinely – albeit darkly funny – scenes and the variety of light and shade was something else about the novel that really worked for me.
This book drew me in and kept me there. It was a satisfying blend of horror, crime and mystery with a really original voice that I really fell for. It was definitely one of those books that you pick up and then lift your eyes from to find out that three hours have passed and you’re still reading. That was what made me want to get his other two books as quickly as I can – and they are going to be a reward for when I finally finish my exam marking. Peter Laws’ skilful plate spinning means that Severed holds your attention in a vice-like grip and you will definitely not be able to put it down until you find out the truth behind what both Micah and Ever have been drawn into and what dark forces may be responsible. If you are squeamish or easily disturbed then this might not be the book for you – it certainly does not shy away from the macabre and you might need to sleep with the light on if you are up too late finishing it!
If you haven’t read any of Peter Laws’ books yet, you should begin straight away with this amazing trilogy and I guarantee that you’ll be drawn in as fast as I was and race through them. Browse all three of them here – and treat yourself to all three to get through the dark winter nights. Only thing is, you might need a stiff whisky to accompany you!
Writer On The Shelf
Peter Laws is an ordained Baptist minister with a taste for the macabre. He regularly speaks and preaches at churches and events. He lives with his family