To tell the truth, I probably never would have given “Haxan” by Kenneth Mark Hoover a read if it had not been published by ChiZine Publications. This has nothing to do with Hoover, whom I was unfamiliar with when I started that book, but rather with the fact that I just do not find Westerns to be that compelling. I did read the book, however, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. I write this because I had no hesitation picking up the prequel to “Haxan,” “Quaternity,” when I got the chance and was hoping that Hoover would be able to keep the world fresh and entertaining for a second literary journey in to his world.
Before he became a U.S. federal marshal and journeyed to Haxan, John Marwood was a man without a family or a city in the Western United States. With no ties to hold him back, he joined up with a group of men who were searching for the golden city of Cibola. The band was comprised of 13 killers and led by Abram Solis, a man who was as fearless as he was ruthless. The search for Cibola was more than a quest for him. It was an obsession.
As the group travels along the Texas/Mexico border, Marwood quickly comes to realize that this quest for the lost city has become something much more personal for him. He begins to learn about the dark things that inhabit his mind and realizes that he must come to grips with them before they consumer him. When the journey takes them onto the blood-soaked plains of Comancheria, Marwood comes face to face with the darkness that dwells inside of him and realizes that the darkness is more than just a thought. He must deal with a dark truth about himself that threatens his very humanity.
While I enjoyed “Quarternity,” I did not think that it lived up to “Haxan.” This is a problem that I often find when I read, or watch, a prequel as I always feel as if some of the suspense is missing from the story since I already know what is going to happen. It is interesting to learn the backstory behind the character but there is not the same sense of the unknown. I knew before starting the book that Marwood would survive the novel and, to some extent, the effect that this novel would have on him in the long run. This makes it harder for the writer to keep my interest as it removes the element of surprise. Hoover is a talented writer and was able to keep my interest throughout the novel but I just could not get into the story as much as I had when I read “Haxan.”
That being said, “Quaternity” is still a strong novel and one that fans of “Haxan” should not hesitate to pick up as it does help flesh out the world that Hoover has created. This novel just had more of a Western feel to it than the first and as such did not appeal to me as much due to the subject matter rather than the ability of the writer. I am sure that fans of Westerns will enjoy this book much more than I did and it is clear that Hoover is a very talented writer. If you have not yet read “Haxan,” I would recommend grabbing both of these books and reading this one first. I think that the story will work better that way. I would not hesitate to read another book in this series if there ever is another nor would I pause in picking up another book in the series. This book is a little slower than the first and has more of a developmental feel rather than an action/adventure but is still a good example of the quality of fiction put out by ChiZine Publications and of Hoover’s talent.
I would like to thank ChiZine Publications and NetGalley for this review copy. “Quaternity” is available now.