Book Review: The Helm of Midnight
Serial killers are a difficult subject to get right, it's easy for them to slip into the realm of farce, where their convoluted schemes and rituals become detailed to the point of obsession, which may well be in keeping with the nature of serial killers but frequently makes for difficult reading.
This was not the case here.
Masks are the key here, both in that they contain the essence of a person after their death, and in that even when not wearing a mask to cover your face, there might still be an unseen mask that prevents the world from seeing who you are. Is it enough that you can be yourself to yourself or does the world need to see it as well?
There's a lot of thought gone into this, the timelines of Louis (Eleven years ago), Melanie (Two years ago), and Krona (Here and Now) are woven together, and while Krona's story is the one that we're really following, by itself, it wouldn't have been anywhere near the story that all three make. Each part is a single thread that might not be able to drag the reader onwards, but when all three are woven into a stronger cord, the pull is irresistible. There were parts where I thought it was too long, but equally parts where I could happily have read more and not been disappointed, but taken as a whole, I enjoyed the book, and while it could be read as a stand alone novel, the ending is one that demands that the next in the series be looked at.
There are a lot of graphic descriptions, it isn't a book for the faint of heart and those who want their violence viewed through sanitised lenses, but more than that, Marina makes sure that the emotional content is there. There are no strong and silent types in this book, when violence is done, there are consequences, when people die, there is a real sense that a person who mattered has died, and throughout, the stakes remain high.
I also loved the idea of time as a commodity, but also the understanding that the point at which you need most time isn't at the end of your life, when you can't make the most of it, but when you're at your best, and more time would be something that every one of us could treasure.