“Doppelganger” was the first book I read by Sean Munger and I was very impressed with the novel. It was a strong horror novel and hinted at Munger’s talent which left me wanting to read more. I was happy to have an advance review copy of his upcoming novel, “The Rats of Midnight,” and wasted no time in diving into the novel hoping that it would be as good if not better than “Doppelganger.”
It seemed as if Raven had the world on a string. She had just graduated from law school and was a new associate for Portland’s hottest law firm. The firm was expanding heavily into tech law but Raven found herself working for a partner that focused on more traditional practices. She leapt at the chance to assist another partner on a special project and took on that work as well. When she received the strange fax calling for a meeting late at night, she was surprised but did not want to say anything about it. After all, she was too new to rock the boat. What happens at the meeting is nothing that she could have ever guessed.
Instead of a business meeting, Raven finds herself in the middle of a ritualistic ceremony that ends in human sacrifice. She cannot remember what happened the morning after but as her memory starts to come back she realizes that she has inadvertently learned of a secret cult that lurks in the shadows of the city and preys upon the homeless and worships a god composed of living rats. The cult has its hooks into the most powerful people in Portland, including some of her firm’s partners, and will do anything to protect its existence.
“The Rats of Midnight” takes a little while to get started and I was at first unsure if the book was going to be able to capture my attention. Munger puts a fair amount of time establishing Bibi and her fiancée as well as her budding legal career and I thought that this was a bit overdone. After putting a little bit too much time in the character development of Bibi and her thoughts on those around her, Munger finally kicks the story into gear and the second half of the novel is a breathless rush toward the finish. The book is a somewhat odd mixture of legal thriller dealing with the tech boom (it takes place in 1999 and 2000) and horror novel and the two aspects overlap in ways that were at times interesting and at other times just a bit distracting.
That is not to say that “The Rats of Midnight” is not a good book. It is an entertaining read that has some very good horror sequences in it to satisfy fans of the genre. It is not really what I was expecting, though, as I would consider it more of a thriller than a horror novel as there is a lot going on in the story that is not really horror. I was looking for the same kind of terror that I found in “Doppelganger” and got more thrills than chills. Not a bad thing. Just a little unexpected. I would have liked more rats of the vermin type rather than the human rats that thrive in the book’s pages. “The Rats of Midnight” is the type of story I would expect if John Grisham took a shot at writing horror and it a solid read that presents a solid thriller built upon the backdrop of a very dark and sinister evil.
I would like to thank Samhain Publishing and NetGalley for this advance review copy. “The Rats of Midnight” is scheduled to be released in December.