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  • Review of the Equinox by Mark Preston

    Canadian Content Review
    By Colin Stark

    Just recently I had an opportunity to do an advanced reading of MJ Preston’s debut novel: The Equinox. This novel of horror ushers you along the mean streets of Chicago then to the prairie town of Thomasville and if that isn’t enough, above the 64th parallel to the Spirit woods of Chocktee.

    From the novel’s back cover:

    It has existed for centuries.

    A dark curse held captive by ancient ritual, a creature of insatiable hunger possessing the ability to change shape at will. During spring and fall equinox it would break through the walls separating our worlds to feed.

    Now it walks among us. And its hungry.

    From the moment you start reading, The Equinoxoffers a high tempo story that rises and falls with the acceleration of a runaway roller-coaster leaving that your pulse hammering and your stomach churning.

    Mainly this rests with the novel’s antagonist. Some call it a bastard offspring of windigo, but to most it is known as “The Walker”, which is a hybrid of the windigo and skin-walker; both monsters of native lore. Along with its ability to shape shift into any being (human or animal), it is plagued with an insatiable hunger that causes it to become an ugly and repulsive killing machine with a single minded purpose to feed its unending hunger.

    The Walker hunts to eat, but it is also the hunted.

    Enter the protagonist, Daniel Blackbird, a half breed aboriginal from the Chocktee Nation. He is the hunter and he has been chasing “The Walker” across North America for over 14 years. Obsessed with vengeance, Blackbird will do anything to have its’ head. Scarred by his first encounter Blackbird can feel its telepathic pull and follows it from one landscape of devastation to the next. Blackbird is a man without a people and his only connection to his home is the walker that marred him an outcast of his native Chocktee.

    In some ways, I cannot help but compare Blackbird to “Dr. Sam Loomis from John Carpenter’sHalloween ( 1978 )”, even though Blackbird is shown as younger, both are hunters sharing an obsession with the responsibility thrust upon them.

    In terms of the setting, the locations in this novel do at first vary from place to place, but most of the story plays out in the rural town of Thomasville. This small town is seen as a quiet and tight knit community, until tragedy hits the area with the disappearance of a little boy. As the police begin to investigate they discover something dark and all the more sinister.

    Along with the ongoing horror the author offers you a window into small town tragedy that deepens with the introduction of the towns many characters. Preston delivers believable characters with whom you begin to identify with and feel empathy for, almost as if you are a member of their community. Simultaneously you also begin to connect to Blackbird’s Native community as the story serves up the many characters setting the framework for this bold novel debut.

    The Equinox is a fast paced read and MJ Preston pulls no punches as he delivers blow after blow in a horrific thrill ride that does not let you go until the last page.
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