Prophet Shorn took me by surprise. When I started reading it, all I knew was it was a Horror novel. I didn’t have access to the book summary at the time I began and decided to skip reading it. I looked back on the summary when I had finished Prophet Shorn and I still would have been shocked by the actual story.
Let me start by saying that the book is well written. I was pulled into the story from the start and had to finish it. I have to be honest, I didn’t want to finish it. I saw where it was going and really wanted to put it down, but I could not.
Here is the book summary: Straddling the line between horror and paranormal thriller, Prophet Shorn details the last few days for a town started by a powerful and charismatic mayor and leader of his people. But the town has dark secrets and Edgar Shorn has even darker ones.
Jo Rondel and her daughter Candy arrive in town in a car that will go no farther. Jo is convinced this is where her hope of a better life has been leading her, but things which at first seem slightly strange quickly escalate into a terrifying trap that no one gets out of alive. Jo falls under the hypnotic spell of the mayor and Prophet, and Candy finds that her only hope lies in Elijah, the mild-mannered and seemingly Alzheimer’s-bound librarian.
As the people fall victim, one by one, to their leader’s depravities, Jo realizes she will never see the larger world again. Edgar Shorn’s evil secrets force her into accepting her fate, but though her forgotten past finally catches up with her, she never stops trying to save her daughter. Candy is learning in just a few days what it means to grow up hard and fast.
The final showdown between Shorn and Elijah, protecting Candy, proves that good is stronger in this world, but there is a price to be paid. Candy’s life is changed forever, and the future doesn’t look bright for a four-year-old who didn’t ask for any of this.
When Jo and her 4 year old daughter end up in Terra’s Hope you realize right away that something isn’t right with the place. The mechanics checking out Jo’s car seem nervous and clueless. The waitress at the empty diner can’t make change and the cook doesn’t know how to make a hamburger. It doesn’t help that there aren’t any hamburger patties, or any other food in the kitchen to begin with.
Jo and Candy remain unaware of the problems the townspeople are having with ordinary tasks and Jo is becoming increasingly frustrated and angry, until Mayor Shorn shows up to welcome the towns visitors. Mayor Shorn is handsome and compelling. He radiates good will and competence as the towns protector. He expounds the virtues of an eco-friendly town to Jo and hints that this is the place she has been looking for to raise Candy.
While resistant at first, Jo falls under the spell of Shorn in record time and when he invites her and Candy to the ‘town meeting’ later that evening, she accepts.
The town meeting turns out to be a sort of worship service geared toward protecting the planet, at least that is what Prophet Shorn leads the town to believe. Maybe persuades is a better word because Shorn has powers and one of those powers allow him to see into the minds of people and to control them.
Candy doesn’t like Prophet/Mayor Shorn. She can see his lips move but cannot hear anything he is saying and she is scared of him. Prophet Shorn doesn’t like Candy either, he can’t see her mind but he dismisses her just like he dismisses the crazy librarian. The librarian isn’t who he seem either.
Things progress quickly. The town meets every night and eats dinner from the bounty Prophet Shorn provides. A lot of people seem to be getting sick but nothing is said. Shorn gains control of Jo’s mind, convincing her she is in love with him and married to him. Then he eventually brutalizes her in every way possible.
The town librarian takes Candy under his wing and tells her she is very important and God will use her to fight the evil Shorn has brought in to the world. He teaches her the Bible and about God and how she must be strong.
My thoughts on the story are this; Candy is only four and it was very hard for me to swallow her role in the story. The scenes of brutality and evil are intense most especially compared to the scenes where the librarian talks about God’s love and deliverance. I have read Christian Fiction and even though I see no evidence that Prophet Shorn is a Christian Fiction novel, it was disturbingly close enough to make me feel uncomfortable when I read the dark scenes. These feelings are, of course, entirely my opinion only and I cannot discredit the book in any way but felt it important enough to put in a word of caution to those who may feel the way I do about the Christian faith portrayed in horror. Having said that, I must say that Thomas Kier exercised the upmost respect for the Christian faith and it’s basic beliefs.
All in all this Horror novel was entirely diabolical. It creeped me out and that is saying a lot. Horror fans will not be disappointed and may be a bit surprised to see exactly how far Prophet Shorn will go to torture mankind.
BTW: I have to give kudos for the cover art. Very, very appropriately spooky!