Book Review: Orphans of Wonderland by Greg F. Gifune

23715831Title: Orphans of Wonderland

Author: Greg F. Gifune

Genre: Horror, Dark Fiction

Age Group: Adult

Rating: 3,5 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by the publisher inexchange for an honest review.

Pray it’s only paranoia.

Twenty years ago, journalist Joel Walker wrote a book about a ritual killing. It exploded into a bestseller and became part of the mass Satanic hysteria of the 1980s. However, his story and the evil he investigated were real and left him the victim of a nervous breakdown.

For the last two decades, his has been a quiet existence far from his former home in Massachusetts. But when one of his childhood friends is brutally murdered and rumored to have been involved in bizarre medical experiments, Joel is lured back to find out what really happened.

Joel must delve deep into the darkness once more, investigating all the way back to his own childhood, and the secrets he and his old friends buried there years ago. But where do paranoia and madness end and real evil begin? With the Orphans of Wonderland.

Orphans of Wonderland is original, offers insightful, intriguing characters and stays away from most of the clichés horror novels tend to fall for. The story focuses on Joel Walker, who used to be a successful journalist two decades ago when he wrote about a ritual killing. When the story exploded and mass hysteria about Satanic rituals began in the 1980s, Joel suffered a nervous breakfown. The media scrutinized him, police officers hated him for mocking the force, and he’d written a sensationalist book while from the get-go, his whole intention had been to tell the truth. After his breakdown, he build a life for himself, as far away from hiis hometown as possible, and tried to fight the demons haunting him.

But when one of his childhood friends get murdered and his daughter calls him for help, Joel is lured back to the past and tricked into finding out more about what happened to him and his friends during their childhood. Are the demons he sees real? Are they figments of his haunted mind? And how can he stop the darkness from seeping in?

The story itself was imaginative, original, and hit all the right notes. For the largest part of the book, the reader is left wondering whether it’s all in Joel’s mind, if he was the victim of bizarre medical experiments or if something even more sinister is going on. The characters are solid, especially Joel. I enjoyed spending time in his mind and getting to know him, and wondering whether he’s sane or not. The writing was great throughout, and every now and then reached the level of excellent.

The book had two downsides though. One would be the pacing. The story starts out slow, continues on the same slow pace for most of the book, and then rushes through the ending. The second flaw would be aforementioned ending. It left much to be desired. Everything seemed to come together too fast, with several loose ties. It also didn’t seem to fit with the tone of the rest of the book.

As I’ve come to expect from this author, another enjoyable dark fiction book that makes the reader question the borders of reality and insanity.

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