In ‘Dead Souls’, J. Lincoln Fenn delivers her second horror novel and it is truly a stand out piece of work. In it, we follow Fiona Dunn who on a chance encounter has sold her soul to the devil. That’s right folks, if a stranger tries a pickup line at a bar claiming that they are the fallen one, you might want to second think to offer up your immortal soul. After buying into a soulless eternity, she falls in with a group of “dead souls” who have all made the same mistake that she has.
Oh, and it gets worse. On top of the soul, each of these “dead souls” also owes the devil a favor that can be called upon at a time of his choosing. Wonderful.
Honestly, what makes this book so successful is that Fiona is a truly relatable character. She works in marketing, came from a family that had issues, and has social anxiety because of it. When she finds out her boyfriend is cheating on her it leads her into the situation above and when enough alcohol is involved people will agree to the damnedest things.
I haven’t seen many stories as of late that gives us someone who has made a deal with the devil, especially someone who started out as an atheist and is such a believable, if not always likable, character.
With “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he did not exist” (Thank you ‘The Usual Suspects’ for giving us such a perfectly updated line to the original version) , Lincoln finds some fun ways to explain how the devil has been active throughout modern times in various memorable events.
The story is not for the weak of heart and the ending definitely will be uncomfortable for some but this is an extremely solid read. If you like tales about the devil and those who barter their souls with him then this is a modern telling, you’ll be sure to love!
That being said, the last third or so of the book really goes dark and mimics more of the craze of the torture porn variety of horror over the psychological. It doesn’t quite make it that far but there are more than a few moments that seemed to go with enjoying physical pain over how the first two-thirds of the novel had been.
While it was an enjoyable book, this shift in directions took me a bit out of it so it wasn’t quite as enjoyable of an ending after the introduction, but still well written and worth the read if you know what to expect going into it.
By: J. Lincoln Fenn
September 20th, 2016