I picked up this book hoping for some gory, supernatural fun, and that I certainly found, but a lot more besides.
It follows the story of Seth and Judy, a middle aged couple fresh out of rehab and escaping the darkness of their pasts by relocating to an old farmhouse on the quiet Maryland coast.
But their peace is short-lived thanks to corrupt cops, drug dealers, and a local Jewish history of occult slaughter that appears to involve the reanimation of corpses into terrifying, murderous rape-machines of lore known as Golems.
The book switches between the present and the 1880s, nicely filling in the history and origins of the troubled town as we go along. While the first half is more gently paced, with enough intrigue and interesting characters – both pleasant and vile – to keep the interest from waning, the second half suddenly explodes. After that, the novel doesn’t pause for breath as everybody is sucked down into gruesome nightmare, and the conclusion is unexpected and wonderfully dark.
The Golem has plenty of Lee trademarks. I expected bodies to be torn asunder, swathes of blood, skulls, imaginative violence and nasty behaviour, and wasn’t disappointed. This is Ed Lee after all. But despite all the supernatural brutality, it was Judy’s achingly human story that kept me glued to the pages. Despite the horrors that surround her, she has to battle personal demons and is trapped in a descent that is convincing and tragically inevitable.
There’s a few typos on the editing side, but other than that, it’s a very accomplished novel from a master of no-holds-barred fiction. Genre fans will devour it.