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3.4 out of 5 stars17
3.4 out of 5 stars
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on 16 December 2012
Having enjoyed Tallis' historical novels that often flirted with the occult, I was pleased to find that he had elected to write a work of supernatural horror. Tallis writes that the direct inspiration was the 19th century French occult novel Là-Bas (The Damned) by J.K. Huysmans and also cited Justine by the Marquis de Sade and Guy de Maupassant's stories as other influences. He also mentions the more recent writings of the British writer Dennis Wheatley whose Library of the Occult series published Là-Bas and other classics of horror and occult fiction from 1974 to 1977.

All of these influences, including de Sade's, are evident though novel's overall tone did remind me most of Wheatley's occult novels that I had happily devoured in the early 1970s. Tallis certainly captured that sense of a rational man being drawn into the dark arts despite himself and becoming morally overwhelmed. Tallis' ability to evoke his historical settings has always been a strong appeal of his fiction and here is no exception as he brings 19th century Paris and France alive.

I found this tale of demonic possession quite a controlled work despite its often explicit scenes of sex and violence though this suited its first person narration by an essentially uptight 19th century doctor clinging to rationality in the face of the supernatural. Tallis is obviously a huge fan of this kind of tale of occult horror and the novel served as an homage. As a fellow fan I certainly enjoyed his foray into this area.

I initially borrowed this novel from the library but purchased my own Kindle copy.
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on 21 July 2012
A good old fashioned horror story set in 19th Century France. With Zombies in the French Antilles, afterlife/near death experience, demonic possession, exorcisms, its got it all. Once started, I found it hard to put down.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 6 December 2013
I recently read The Sleep Room by this author, and thoroughly enjoyed it, so looked out another book of his to read. This book begins with a young doctor in 1872 who escapes from dreary life in Paris to an exotic life in Saint-Sebastien, an island in the French Antilles. While there, he experiences some of the local superstitions and magics which touch the border between life and death. When he returns to Paris in 1873 he finds work with medical specialists who are investigating that same border, and what may be on the other side. How does science coexist with religion in these times?

This is a good spooky book, with devilry and religion, horrific visions and superstitions all intertwined. I did not think it was as good a book as The Sleep Room - it did not have the same suspense and breathless haste in the narrative, and seemed at times to drift a bit from purpose. Perhaps a good edit would have helped tighten the narrative overall. But it was a fairly good read.
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on 19 July 2012
This book was a sad disappointment to me. I've enjoyed the Liebermann novels a great deal, but this felt like a potboiler churned out to make money. The central plot line about possession and exorcism is engaging, and the second half of the novel rattles along. However, the opening chapters are rushed, plot driven and seem designed simply to get the 'hero' back to Paris. Minor characters aren't fully developed and I found Clement increasingly hard to like. I usually enjoy novels about morally dubious characters, but Clement is just repulsive. I was also uncomfortable about the portrayal of the female characters, which at times seems misogynistic ( I've often wondered how female readers respond to Tallis's depiction of female characters and their bodies in his other novels.) I kept reading because I enjoyed the historical setting, and because I hoped the book would get better, which it does. I hope Mr Tallis goes back to Liebermann, or invents a much less unpleasant character for further novels set in France.
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on 15 April 2013
A rather gothic trip into the dark underworld of the nineteenth-century occult. Sinister and creeping and really quite disturbing, 'The Forbidden' is a complete departure from the Liebermann books in everything except the clearly extensive research which supports Tallis's writing. The only reason this isn't a five-star for me is that I could see how the plot was going to play out reasonably early on. I hope Tallis continues in this vein at some point.
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on 30 October 2013
It starts slowly but the sense of a creeping evil is exciting and disturbing. Some terrifying shockers but the sense of the hopeless of one man's descent into degeneracy and depravity and his realisation of its cause is riveting! He fights back and wins his battle but its not without great cost. I love Frank Tallis's Lieberman books and was reluctant to buy this but I am very glad I did...I hope he does more like this!
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on 19 January 2015
A Parisian doctor witnesses what appears to be voodoo magic in Jamaica after a boy who is declared dead rises again.
After returning to France the doctor develops an interest in early techniques of applying electricity to revive patients whose hearts have stopped. Some of these patients speak of their near death experience and possible visions of an afterlife.
Deciding to experiment on himself, through use of a poison he manages to die for a few seconds before being revived by a colleague. What he sees and experiences is not exactly what he was hoping for and sets the tone for an eerie tale of possession.
This starts off as an interesting look at Paris in the 19th century and the early development of medicine.
The scenes in Paris are evocatively rendered.
The story then becomes one of psychological suspense, before all out horror is unleashed in a gripping finale.
This was a slow burner but by the end I was thoroughly consumed by the story.
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I'm used to Franks' writing style from his crime stories and whilst this was a departure into a new genre for him, its one that worked incredibly well as his vivid writing style brought out not only the gore and horror but translated the whole plotline into something I just couldn't get go of.

Add to this a wonderfully woven tapestry of intrigue to accompany the darker aspects as well as some cracking emotional twists and all in this story was one that proves he not only has a future in the genre but that he has the skill to thrill and chill in spades. Great stuff all in and a tale that will definitely stay with me for quite some time.
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on 23 July 2014
it carries you along and you have to read it to the end, but it didn't convince me. I think you have to believe in the subject for it to be a really good read.
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on 6 April 2013
To begin with I found this to be a bit tedious, but I'm glad I persevered! I really enjoyed this book, I'd been wanting to read it for such a long time and finally got round to buying it on my Kindle. From the second part it picked up pace, and I began to not want to put it down.

This is a really well-written book, with plenty of research put into the characters (some of whom were real) as well as demons and their origins. Definitely a book I'll read again and recommend.
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