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"Cataclysm Children" by Paul Nemeth (2015) review


"Cataclysm Children" by Paul Nemeth (Black Rose Writing, 2015)

Although "Cataclysm Children" (Black Rose Publishing) is fiction, author Paul Nemeth gleaned inspiration from a real life incident that occurred a couple of decades ago by black metal musicians from Norway.

The story begins on Valentine's Day 1991 in a Denver, Colorado suburb. Rabbi Avram Levi is assaulted in the parking lot of his synagogue by a demonic figure sporting white clown make-up, clothes dotted with odd symbols, and long hair. The rabbi is knocked unconscious, Temple El-Beth has been torched, and a picture of a wolf inside a pentagram has been drawn on the pavement of the synagogue.

A year later, Father Cavanaugh is stabbed to death and his church is burned to the ground. The murder of the priest was traced to a cult of Satan worshippers dubbed the Wolf Clan. Thorn, who was a member of a local heavy metal band, Legion, was charged with the crime and sent to prison.

Flash forward to 2010, and we meet Danny Andrews, a high school student living in Hadley, the town where Legion was born and where the Wolf Clan horrors took place. A workaholic father, a self-centered step-mother, failing grades, and the relentless harassment of bullies populate Danny's bleak world. Intelligent but possessing no interest in formal education, Danny sees hypocrisy everywhere. He has a smart mouth and isn't afraid to physically fight back when taunted by the mean-spirited jocks, who also constantly belittle Danny's two friends, Tim and DJ.

Danny, Tim, and DJ are huge Legion fans. Aside from loving the band's music, they are fascinated with its gory history. But Danny has no idea his Uncle Ian, who went under the stage name Fury, played in Legion. Disconnecting himself from the band and experience, Ian moved to the San Francisco Bay Area and remained estranged from the family. Inspired by Legion, Danny and his pals form their own band, Stillborn.

A creepy older guy, Charon, hangs around Danny, Tim and DJ. He buys them beer and preaches the gospel of Satan. Tim and DJ are impressed with Charon, but Danny has his reservations. Nevertheless, encouraged by Charon, he along with Tim and DJ, sell their soul to the devil.

Meanwhile, Ian plans to return to Hadley for a funeral of a musician buddy. In tandem with his visit, terror strikes Hadley once again. Has the Wolf Clan been revived, is a copycat artist at hand, or is it merely a psycho behind these acts? Ian instantly discovers who and what Danny is involved with, and is determined to stop the violence.

Besides boasting a great plot with well-developed characters, "Cataclysm Children" further addresses issues such as bullying, neglectful parents, and clueless teachers, resulting in a fine coming of age story. Jumping to and fro  from the early 90s and 2010, "Cataclysm Children" is an extremely compelling read. Despite the dark subject matter, chuckles are to be had. You can't help but root for Danny, whose sharp sarcasm and wit cuts right through the pages.

Rocking with evil excitement, "Cataclysm Children" would probably have a "parental advisory" sticker on it if it were a record. This book was so good that I hated to see it end.

Review made by Beverly Paterson/2015
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