Author: Solomon Strange
Publisher: Self published
Credit: The author, Solomon Strange, for providing us with a review copy. Thank you.
Ebethusa, The (2011) by Solomon Strange
After renowned psychologist and grumpy old sceptic, Professor Ruth Simmons, is mauled to death by maladjusted bipedal dogs with funny long noses, her once student, secret admirer and all round nice guy, Doctor Mike Patterson, attends the funeral and, after nervously eyeballing her hot daughter, decides to investigate the mystery behind dear old Ruth’s unexpected trip to the netherworld. What he finds is a world of mystery, murder and mayhem with a Frenchman named Hugo de Chauncey at the centre of it. Mike joins him there without having to lick anything, except Becky Simmons, and as the mystery deepens he very briefly considers that his own scepticism might be misplaced. All roads lead to an ancient tome called The Ebethusa, supposedly of extra-terrestrial origin, and Hugo de Chauncey turns out to be a powerful adversary who, through its use, seemingly controls violent creatures from another dimension called Hybrids.
The Ebethusa is the debut novel of UK author Solomon Strange. Mr Strange is also a fictional character in his own right, with a brief but mysterious history described on his website. The novel is a blend of sci-fi and supernatural horror elements with dollops of ghosts, quantum physics, extra-terrestrials, ancient cultures and cheap paperback eroticism added to the mix. At the time of review Mr Strange is working on two more novels, both apparently self-published for electronic release, as was the case with The Ebethusa. Unfortunately, The Ebethusa puts its tender virgin feet into many of the traps that so often sever the limbs of unsuspecting debut novels.
At times the story seemed obsessed with meaningless details, such as the way equipment was set-up in a room, or the brands of the things being described. Many characters in the story seem to exist to fill pages rather than add any real substance to the unfolding plot. Blasphemy is overused to the point of monotony, the words “Jesus”, “God” and “Christ” appearing more than super-special-editions of the King James Bible. The novel’s only sex scene is incredibly unromantic and awkward, reminiscent of the puppet sex scene from Team America: World Police. When, at one point, the author casually remarks about how the woman is not firm but proportionate for her age, while also describing the act as oily, I could not help but laugh out loud while simultaneously thinking that she requires the help of a different kind of doctor.
Pacing is uneven throughout and the initially promising story heads to a rushed and almost silly Scooby Doo like ending. The main protagonist remains so irrationally sceptical in spite of what is happening around him, that it was hard to take him seriously as a person. Characters are often referred to as “the psychologist” or “the young woman” instead of by their names, and while this is standard practice and fine if done conservatively, it is overused in this book and becomes distracting.
The novel’s conclusion arrives so suddenly it seemed the author had simply grown tired of his novel and wanted to finish it as quickly as possible. The one minute the protagonists are desperately seeking answers and the next everything is solved and wrapped up in a neat little bow with little explanation of what had taken place, or why they had succeeded where so many others had failed. This is a pity, because The Ebethusa is a novel with a lot of potential. It builds like a thunderstorm, but then fades like a rainbow, leaving you wondering where the lightning went all of a sudden.
For all its faults, however, The Ebethusa is an entertaining read, and Solomon Strange is definitely an author to watch in the future. With two more novels en-route, and work that should only get better with experience, it is only a matter of time before he is picked up for traditional publication. I can recommend The Ebethusa to anybody looking for a light sci-fi horror read.
I give The Ebethusa 5 out of 10… and an oily moistness in this review.