Not since Father Ted had money 'resting' in his bank account has the Catholic Church been quite so devious and dastardly. What begins as a creepy English ghost story ends in the Vatican in this exciting page turning theological fantasy. I am not a fan of Dan Brown's writing, I always found his stories so ludicrous and too fantastic. Serena Caines sensibly goes for the supernatural and the whole incredible story works a treat. Characterisation is good, especially the baddies. The horror and suspense is well written but it's her powers of description that stand out. Her Rome especially is painted in such beautiful colours. A first novel? Oh I'm impressed.
I was lucky enough to read this book in an earlier draft and thoroughly enjoyed it, terming it a "real page turner". Now, having read the finished product I can endorse my earlier opinion 100%. Serena Cairns totally fulfils the promise of her earlier short stories with this gripping tale of something nasty lurking beneath the church (with both a small and a capital "c"). The characters ring true and in the true tradition of the masters and mistresses of macabre fiction the unlikely and the unbelievable is made believable. I'm a seasoned reader of fantastic fiction and I am happy to admit that this book really delivers the goods - and made me squirm! I hope a sequel is planned. Highly recommended.
I couldn't put this book down. Serena creates characters that you identify with. Everyone at some point has felt a shiver down their spine, heard unseen footsteps behind them, or felt invisible eyes watching... And Serena weaves a story that pulls you in, and awakens these feelings. I was hooked from the first page. This novel tells of horror like Graham Masterton, suspense like James Herbert and takes you on a magical mystery tour like Dan Brown. I can't wait to read more!
This was my holiday book for two weeks, it was read in one week as I couldn't put it down! From the beginning to end it kept my imagination trapped in the pages. I am so looking forward to Serena Cairns next book.
The Father of Lies is a thriller that reads like the love child of The Omen and The Da Vinci Code. The story starts out with a setting like a good old English horror tale: a medieval church, a hidden crypt, a couple of mysterious deaths. The main protagonist, female vicar Laura Coatman, though, hints at something a little different and the arrival of the sinister Monsignor Benvenuti kicks off a plot that grows into something much bigger than anything so parochial. Almost by stealth the reader realises things have turned through ninety degrees as the story romps from rural England to London and on to Rome, leading to the uncovering of a secret evil within the Holy Roman Church itself.
Father of Lies is tastefully written without the need of intense macabre or blood dripping from the ceilings. It is a merging of ideas, and even churches and faiths. I particularly enjoyed that there is a strong female lead too. The author has effortlessly written her into the role as the book progresses.
All the characters have distinct personalities, and are well developed. I must confess that I find Benvenuti to be a fascinating character. He is so unlikeable, and seemingly beyond redemption, and yet, I felt that there was more to him than is revealed.
Father of Lies does not set a pace quite as brutal as with a typical Dan Brown novel, but there is plenty of intrigue, and suspense. The story includes a little of the familiar iconology and is a blending of different faiths, from Christian to Pagan. Being an avid reader of all things Maya, I was pleased to see even just passing reference to both Kukulcan, and Quetzalcoatl. There is a lovely winding of serpentine lore and legend, tightly bound with religion.
There is a chance that some Catholics or Christians might take offence to some of the subject matter. If you have a deep-seated faith, you may not want to read this novel as it will challenge your way of thinking. This is an alternative viewpoint that is not for everyone.
Having said that, and if you are still reading my review, I believe you will thoroughly enjoy this novel with all its twists. There is no cliffhanger, but there is plenty of scope to turn Father of Lies into a compelling series. I see great potential and I look forward to reading more from Serena Cairns.
Having just finished the book Father of Lies, well, what can I say? I think it's excellent. I bought my copy from Heffers Bookshop in Cambridge . At first I was not sure about the story but, after reading the first few pages, I was totally hooked.
Having read quite a few books, it was one I found I did not want to put down because I was anxious to see how it ended.
I enjoyed the many twists and turns, and felt that you never knew what was round the corner.
The description of the places had been well-researched, and the way it was set out makes you feel that you want to visit those places.
The end of the story surprised me, but I knew it made sense, and I think it could become a source of discussion about the Catholic Church.
To sum it up: Serena Cairns is a great author, and the ideas that she comes up with are well thought out, and I cannot wait for her next book to be published. If it is as good as the one I have just read, I will be well satisfied.
I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review.
I read this book as part of my #yearofindiewomen.
This is an excellent book. I was immediately drawn into it and had a hard time putting it down. It's reminiscent of and a mixture between 'The Da Vinci Code' and 'Rosemary's Baby'. That's really a pretty perfect mixture for me.
I am not religious as an adult, and the religious influences I grew up with were mostly either non-denominational or, more often, Southern Baptist, so I only have a peripheral knowledge of Catholicism and even less of a grasp of the Church of England. Still, even with such a limited knowledge of these faiths, I was able to fully understand and enjoy this story. There is enough information to make me feel like I was learning but not too much to make feel like I was stupid or overwhelmed. Cairns handled this with perfect balance.
If you're a die-hard Catholic who can't step back and let fiction take you for a ride (suspend your disbelief, or perhaps belief in this case), this book might rub you a little raw. Like a lot of good fiction does, it challenges truths and shapes new realities out them which might be offensive to some.
The mystery/conspiracy in this novel is extremely well done. If you are disillusioned with organized religion (or a borderline conspiracy theorist, as I jokingly refer to myself) it's actually not that unbelievable. The paranormal element might make it a bit more iffy for some folks, but it didn't for me. If you really think about it, though, there's a lot of paranormal that happens in the Church, so why is this any more far fetched?
All of the characters are well fleshed out and have their own distinct personalities. Laura, our main protagonist, in particular, is a strong and bold woman who wants to not only carve her own niche in the church but bring women forward. She's a feminist, to the core, but she's also true in her faith. But she's no infallible. She's stubborn and repeatedly refuses help even when she clearly needs it, and her ability to judge the character of those around her is extremely flawed. She's often too headstrong for her own good.
I kind of wish there was a follow-up to this novel, just because I want to know what happens to these characters in the future, but that's selfish of me. I think Cairns ended this novel perfectly. I feared the ending might be disappointing because with a plotline like this novel has, it would be really easy to give this book a rushed, cliched, or anti-climatic ending, but she doesn't. It's nuanced and leaves the reader completely satisfied. This one anyway. 😃
So, if you're into twisting, turning, suspenseful mysteries with a religious and paranormal element, definitely pick this book up. It just might make it into my top ten books this year.
Read this review and more over on my blog at roxiewrites (dot) tumblr (dot) com.
Father of Lies was sent to me prior to publication, and I regret not having read it until now. Although it begins as a dark supernatural tale, and hints at something evil and pervasive within the very fabric of the church, it is only when the action moves to Rome that we see to what extent it has influenced our beliefs. We follow a C of E female priest, as she locks horns (!) with the Vatican, in a fast-paced thriller to rival Dan Brown. Sit back, fasten your seat belt and prepare for a rollercoaster ride with a surprising twist.