In this sequel to Hounds of the Underworld, we join forensic scientist Penny and her spiritually touched brother Matiu (a mere year later) as they are faced with solving a rising number of crimes connected to a series of missing women. However, the story is not simply a ‘Sherlock holmsesk whoduit’, as the authors take us beyond the scary things that lay in the dark into the scary things they lay inside us all.
Throughout the novel the authors’ strive for a balance between the protagonists (Penny and Matiu), but as a female reader I was once again on Penny’s side, not only because of her drive for logic in an illogical world, but because she too has to put up with the obstacles that society only puts in front of woman (her parents expectations of a dutiful daughter, being taken seriously in her field of forensic science, and dealing with her egotistical ex-boyfriend).
For lovers of Monster horror this is no Little Red Riding Hood re-imagining, rather a ‘if Lovecraft and Stephen King co-authored’ a novel. Set in the Auckland of the future, an energy starved darker version of itself, the story manages to seamlessly combine a nod to culturally insightful supernatural elements with the clarity that only science can provide. I was glad to be reading during the daylight so that I could put the book down and assure myself that the escalating horror was held firm on the page, though that didn’t stop me from eagerly reading each horrific death, near death and never dead incident with my heart pounding and the taste of metal in my mouth.