Not for the Faint of Heart: Punish the Sinners by John SaulWritten by M. McGriff
Summary Courtesy of Goodreads:
Italy 1252. Inquisition. Accusation. Fear. Torture. The guilty and the innocent dying for sins real and imagined in the flames of the burning stake. Neilsville, 1978. Peter Balsam has come to this sleepy desert town to teach its youth, and finds a mystery of mounting horror. Something is happening to the young girls of St. Francis Xavier High School — something evil. In bloodlet and terror a suicide contagion has swept the two… while a dark order of its holy men enacts a secret medieval ritual. Is hysteria manipulating these innocent children into violent self-destruction? Or has supernatural force, a thirteenth-century madness, returned to… Punish The Sinners.
Favorite Parts of the Book:
The prologue was definitely one of my favorite parts of the book. The pacing of the scene was like that of a really good horror movie, leaving you on the edge of your seat. And then right when the “ax falls”, the first words out of your mouth are “Holy ****”. I was definitely left a little scared, especially reading this part at night while home alone!
My second favorite part of the book was the ending. The novel finished just as strong as the beginning, with such a feeling of disbelief. It was a finish I didn’t see coming and when I put it down it left me wanting to know more about what happens next, which could make a very good sequel!
I must say I had a love/hate relationship with Peter Balsam. There were times I was rooting for him when he stood up to the “man” aka the Monsignor. There were other times I wish I could go into the book and knock him upside his head for making stupid choices. Either way, I felt connected to him and the author did a great job with his character development.
Now for the bad news:
My only complaint with the novel was the very middle. It started to get sluggish with the storyline making it a little difficult to get through. I understand that a story has to have it slowdowns but it should keep me interested all the same. I wanted to get to the climax already and by the time I got to the last section of the book, the action picked up and slammed me with a great ending. I think if it wasn’t for the middle of the book, I would’ve finished the novel a whole lot sooner.
It’s a great thriller book with a storyline that isn’t for the squeamish. I’m not talking about blood and guts, but rather very controversial topics like suicide and taboo sex that may leave the faint of heart just a little uncomfortable, especially when the whole book relies on the concept of the Catholic religion. If you can handle that, then this is a good read for you!
Photo courtesy of: fantasticfiction.co.uk