Friday, 22 July 2016

REVIEW: Duncan P Bradshaw - Hexagram

Genre: Horror
Publisher: Eyecue Productions / SHC
Publication Date: 25th July 2016
Pages: 324


A copy of Hexagram was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer by the author, Duncan P Bradshaw, in exchange for an honest review. This is said review. This book is published by the Eyecue Productions / The Sinister Horror Company.

Duncan P Bradshaw is a fella who writes stuff that always mesmerises me, but each book does this for a completely different reason. I have been lucky enough to read everything he has put out for human consumption. You can find links for all my other reviews of his stuff at the bottom of this review.

This one has been on the radar for a while so I was delighted to get a copy for review. I knew it was coming but I knew nothing about it and went at it totally blind. This one is put together in a unique and interesting way that will have a lot of people scratching their heads to begin with but begging for more by the end.

This is what I thought.

The story starts in 1538. A group of mysterious Inca’s are preparing for the ritual to end all rituals. No one is sure if it will even work. No one is sure what the outcome will be for all involved. They know what they would like it to be.

The conquistadors are hell bent on stopping the ritual and when they do, this sets a series of events in motion that spans over five hundred years, in countries all over the world. Many different people try many different methods to finish the ritual.

Does anyone actually realise that when the ritual is complete, it could be not only the end for themselves, but all of mankind?

This is a tricky book to review. Not because of any real negative reason but because of how it is structured. It reads as a novel following the many attempts at completing the ritual over many hundreds of years, but also has six very distinct stories within it, all set in different eras through time, with different characters being consumed by the draw of the ritual and what it could mean when completed.

To that end, giving you the low down on the individual characters is quite a mammoth task and to be honest, not one I really want to do because this is the sort of story that you need to grow with the characters for the little time that you know them.

We have the Incas in 1538. The originators of the ritual and all that it means. Determined to fulfil what they need to do but always seemingly doomed to failure. In 1716 we have a group of sailors, shipwrecked and running for their lives from the natives, all while one of them discovers the secrets of the ritual and again tries to fulfil it. This section is his story. In 1864 we have a group of religious people being the latest to discover the mysterious script and, again, they do everything they can to complete what no one has before. In 1888 we travel to England to listen to the story of a police detective as he tries to decipher many clues to discover the origins, and ultimately the destination that the ritual predicts. 1981 takes us to the Bahamas and a self-proclaimed religious leader, using devious ways to try and fulfil what he knows about the ritual. Finally, we arrive in the present day to follow the story of a meek and mild young woman who may finally be able to pull all the clues together, but still has no clue as to what she is actually doing.

You may have gathered the plot by now. There is an ancient ritual to be completed that does…….something. No one but the Incas are ever exactly sure what it is they are trying to do. No one realises just how dangerous their quest is. No one knows that success may actually result in the destruction of mankind.

The writing? Well, it’s Duncan Bradshaw that has written it so you know it’s going to be good. It always strikes me as sad in a way that writers like Duncan can’t just jump up on a big stage and shout “here I am” and instantly get all the praise they deserve in the writing world. His writing is sublime. Every story you read is totally different. I finished Prime Directive about a week ago. Totally different story in so many ways but it still has the beautifully paced, perfectly put together story that, as I said earlier, mesmerises you from start to finish.

Things to note in this one; each story is set in a very distinct period in time, in locations all over the world. For this you need different accents, a totally different use of language from the previous part so that you get the true feeling and atmosphere of the place you are now in. This is done perfectly. As you read, you are almost adding in the little inflections in the voices and to be able to make you do this is a wonderful talent. The scenes in 1888 were my favourites without doubt. I love the old Victorian style writing and this section was very reminiscent of William Hope Hodgson’s Carnacki, in the style in which it was written. It was perfect.

To be able to give you the definite distinction between the worlds in a novel is not easy. This one needed to be written in such a way that it seemed as if you were reading a collection of stories whilst being fluid enough to be recognised as a novel as well. It achieved both extremely well for me.

In terms of the horror side of things? It could be scarier in that respect. Once you get into the meat of the story and understand what is happening, the concept of what the people are trying to achieve is scary as hell. Nothing scarier in fact. For me I would have liked more fear. Duncan Bradshaw has shown in the past that he is a master of building tension and fear and having you squirming in your seat and genuinely panicking. I didn’t feel that so much with this one.

If you want blood and guts, then this is the baby for you. There is more than one scene in this one that will test your gag reflex to the max and make sure that you grab hold of various parts of your body to make sure they are still there. Mr Bradshaw is a sick puppy.

To summarise: a novel following various groups of people as they all try and achieve one goal across many centuries. A scary concept that could have delivered more for me on the horror front but makes up for that with the blood and literal guts. Either way, it’s Duncan P Bradshaw. You need to read it.

General rating:

★★★★ nearly perfect.

Horror rating:

★★★.5 needed more of the scary stuff.

If you would like to help support Confessions of a Reviewer, then please consider using the links below to buy Hexagram or any other books from Duncan. This not only supports me but also lets me know how many people actually like to buy books after reading my reviews.


Book Synopsis:

We are all made of stars.

When an ancient Inca ritual is interrupted, it sets in motion a series of events that will echo through five hundred years of human history. Many seek to use the arcane knowledge for their own ends, from a survivor of a shipwreck, through to a suicide cult.

Yet...the most unlikeliest of them all will succeed.


Part-Time Author/Full-Time Loon.

One day upon waking, as if from some frightful nightmare, I sat at my laptop and typed out letters, which formed words, slowly they created sentences. People read it and said, that's okay that is, have a biscuit. And I said yes.

I live in Wiltshire, in Southern England with my wife Debbie and our two cats, Rafa and Pepe, they just miaowed a hello at you. Between bouts of prolonged washing up and bungie cord knitting, I type out the weird and wonderful things that run around my head.

My debut novel, zom-com Class Three, was released in November 2014, the first book in the follow up trilogy, Class Four: Those Who Survive is out in July 2015. I'm then going to try and get some novellas released which are on something other than the undead.

And for more about Duncan, visit his site or find him on social media:

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