My rating: 3 of 5 stars
There’s nothing like an enigmatic, unsolved mystery, especially a true one, to excite public (or private) interest. Hoping to inject new life into his ailing newspaper, fabulously wealthy media mogul Alexander McIntyre mounts an expedition to New Hope Island, planning to get to the bottom of the abrupt disappearance of a fringe religious cult that settled there more than a hundred years ago. McIntyre believes that aliens were involved (really!), but he hires the best experts in the fields of archaeology, ufology, epidemiology, parapsychology, and security, building them a state of the art base camp on the barren island, to uncover the truth, whatever it is. He also sends his star reporter along, to file up to the minute reports on the team’s progress, thereby increasing circulation among spellbound readers. But serious, unexplained problems arise from the moment the team sets foot on the island, not the least of which is that their communications center simply will not function, leaving them marooned in the presence of some very malevolent forces. Very soon, some of team are dead and gone — literally.
F. G. Cottam is skilled at combining the genres of thriller and paranormal, and The Colony is right up there when it comes to meeting his readers’ expectations. I would describe this one as disconcerting rather than horrifying, but subtlety is something I much prefer to graphic gore. What I particularly enjoyed was the in depth viewpoints provided by the various experts, and subplot involving the young daughter of the team’s psychic and a maritime marine museum curator. Some of the characters were one dimensional, but others were more developed, depending upon their importance in the plot. When the deaths occurred, it would have been interesting to know what became of their bodies, but perhaps that’s to be revealed in sequels to The Colony. Overall, this is a well presented paranormal mystery, but……
Evidently, this book was initially released only in a digital version. I acquired a print copy published somewhat later, by Ipso Books. Perhaps The Colony was spookier and more suspenseful than I found it to be. The reason I’m not certain is that my attention was constantly disrupted by what appear to be a very poorly edited text. Did you know that churches have “knaves”, photos can be “matt”, and punctuation can be omitted in very long sentences? My favorite gaffe is as follows: “They were helpless, no more any of them really he feared, than prey. (Bit of a weird sentence here, doesn’t really make sense.)”
Enough said. Despite all the annoying errors, The Colony was a pretty good story, sufficient to make me ignore my irritation to soldier on to the end. Properly published, it probably would have been even better.
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