They say good things are worth waiting for. I’m not the most patient of creatures and waiting for Amazon to get their act together and release ‘The Haunted Maze’ was very frustrating, but...I have to admit it, well worth the wait in the end. Talk about building anticipation...
Theo Fenraven amazes me. Every time I start one of his books I find myself diving into something completely new. This author doesn’t repeat himself, he flirts with genres and then moves on to the next one, always flexing his artistic muscles and pushing himself and the reader to extend their boundaries. Of course the amazing aspect of this flexing is not so much that he does it, but that he not only gets away with it but manages to own each of the genres he tackles as well as put his personal spin on it.
It’s hard not to fall for Sage. He’s presented as an honest, good and reliable young man who wants to do and be the best he can be. His perseverance when faced with his deepest fear was described so well I almost experienced his anxiety as well as his determination to overcome it.
I wasn’t entirely sure what to think or make of Percy. His scheme is, of course, utter madness and yet there is something sweet and almost innocent about his hope and belief he might find a man who will love him in the middle of a haunted house.
The same is true for Richard, Percy’s lawyer and friend. I couldn’t quite pinpoint him. Like Percy he sounds impersonal and ‘big business’ a lot of the time. And yet there are these gestures and casual remarks suggesting both men might be basically good. This of course makes the characters more interesting and realistic. While having a clear cut distinction between sympathetic and despicable characters can make a story easy to read, it rarely makes a book or the characters in it fascinating. And if Percy and his haunted house are to be described as anything, fascinating would be the word to use.
Once Sage enters the Maze the story blew me away. The various scenes, the different kinds of horror and the puzzles he has to solve were all cleverly thought out and presented so well it was possible to visualize the creatures and monsters. Sage’s internal conflicts as a result of rationally knowing everything he sees and experiences is fake and the very real fear he experiences regardless, was recognisable and made him all the more realistic. His internal dialogue as well as the comments he makes to Percy, who he knows is observing him, added a wonderful touch of humour to the story and put a smile on my face on more than one occasion.
I loved how Theo Fenraven managed to portray a burgeoning relationship between two characters who spend most of their time apart from each other. Initially the only interaction between Percy and Sage takes place without face to face contact, through short conversations over the intercom. And yet, despite the lack of direct contact the reader is in no doubt these two men are getting to know and appreciate each other more with each new horror Sage faces.
I really don’t want to say anything else about the story. Exactly what imaginative horrors Sage runs into and how he deals with them should be a surprise to the reader. The same is true for what happens when Percy’s carefully laid plans are thrown into turmoil. Reading this book is very close to visiting a haunted house. The reader, like Sage, has no idea what to expect next. Each turn of the page may bring a new surprise or shock, just like turning each corner in a haunted house would bring you face to face with something else to make you startle and scream. Very well done, Mr. Fenraven.
The Haunted Maze, despite its title, is a love story, be it that we only get to see the very early stages of the romance. In most books that would result in me wishing the story had been longer. The Haunted Maze didn’t leave me feeling disappointed though. By the time the story ended I’d seen enough of Sage and Percy to believe it was possible for them to be something special together. This was one book in which how they got to that point was far more interesting than what might happen afterwards could ever be.
As always – and I do seem to reflect on this in every review of books by this author - the writing in The Haunted Maze is breathtaking and awe-inspiring. I’ll never understand how Theo Fenraven manages to create such vivid pictures with so few, yet very carefully chosen, words. Reading his books is pure reading delight for me and I can’t wait to see what he’ll be coming up with next.
Buy link for The Haunted Maze on Amazon: http://smile.amazon.com/Haunted-Maze-Theo-Fenraven-ebook/dp/B00P47DVJQ/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1414928030&sr=8-8&keywords=The+Haunted+Maze