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Review: Waking Nightmares

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Waking Nightmares
Author: Christopher Golden 
Release Date: March 29, 2011
Publisher: Ace
The Shadow Saga #5 (Peter Octavian Novels)
ISBN: #978-0441020171
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Format(s): paperback (352 pages), e-book

I received a copy of this book from the PUBLISHER for the purposes of an honest review.
From the author’s website:
When chaos erupts in the small coastal town of Hawthorne, Massachusetts, former vampire-turned-mage Peter Octavian and earthwitch Keomany Shaw arrive to investigate. 
Years ago, Octavian helped expose the secret existence of vampires to the world, dismantling the Vatican’s sorcery corps in order to save his fellow shadows from destruction.  But without the Vatican sorcerers, the magical barriers they spent centuries constructing to keep the forces of darkness out of our world are beginning to fail, and things are slipping through. 
Now an ancient god of chaos is awakening in Hawthorne, its influence spreading…and it’s Octavian’s fault.  If he can’t stop it, the blood of all human kind will be on his hands.
What B is talking about:
Peter Octavian is a former vampire who has, quite literally, been through Hell and back and is now not only mortal, but the most powerful sorcerer in the world. Believing that he bears responsibility for the dark forces threatening our world, he has become mankind’s champion, determined to do what he can to save humanity.
Waking Nightmares, the fifth novel in The Shadow Saga, was a difficult novel for me. Although it was a well-written book, it was more “horror-fantasy” than Urban Fantasy in my opinion. And while I have a serious soft spot for Paranormal Romance, as well as a growing appreciation for Urban Fantasy, I’ve never been able to really enjoy Horror as a genre. 
With that in mind, I have to say I didn’t care for Waking Nightmares. It was gory, there is no trace of a happy ending, and there is at least one sex “situation” that I found fairly awful. The novel definitely had me turning pages as fast as I could read them, but I realized at some point that my compulsion to keep reading was born of the hope that the characters were going to catch a break soon, rather than a real anticipation of what Golden might have in store next. 
To be fair, if I was a fan of horror novels I’d probably like this book a great deal. The story was truly well-written and would have been a good read, I think. Golden’s prose is solid and competently edited. I can’t think of any glaring typos or language foibles that distracted me from the narrative. The brief depiction of his take on the origin of vampires is unique and daringly unconventional, as well. 
I’ve never thought novels with a forced happy ending were particularly satisfying, so the lack of one wasn’t what put me off the book. I’m perfectly content with a “hopefully ever after” if the story as a whole makes a believer of me. In Waking Nightmares, however, any bit of hope the characters are given to cling to is quickly stripped away. I do think that Golden has a gift for storytelling and making his ideas come alive with ghastly clarity. His books have received many good reviews, and I can see why, but I found Waking Nightmares to be a disturbing, and sometimes brutal novel.
B’s Rating: 
Finished it, didn’t hate it – take it or leave it (C)



  • Hmm… I might have to pass on this one. I’m not a fan of horror (unless you count zombies, for some very strange reason), so this doesn’t sound like my cuppa. It might be MamaChelle’s though. Maybe I’ll send her the link….

  • I agree with Mama Kitty…Hmmm, is the first thing that came to mind. Now since you did specify that you might have liked it more if you liked the horror genre I think I might give this series a try starting with book 1 sometime and see how it goes from there.

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