“The charm of horror only tempts the strong” – Jean Lorrain

Author Imowen Lodestone’s novel ‘Seasons of Pain’ explores the world of supernatural and dark powers. It narrates the tale of Jesse, someone who appears to the world as just another woman coping with school, a menial job and a draining relationship. But she holds a secret that only few people are privy to. She is an exiled witch running away from her true identity. But when the war waged by witches, warlocks & psychics reach her doorstep, she inadvertently gets intertwined in the mess. And along with a kindred soul she finally acknowledges and accepts her true destiny.

The narration in ‘Seasons of Pain’ switches back and forth between the first person narrative of the two characters - Jesse and Adalious. This plot device gives the novel an edgy feel and makes the storyline sound more complex than it really is. And the Adalious and Jesse tracks have their own distinct style and feel to it. The only time the first person narrative feels weak is when a character goes into an impromptu history lesson in the middle of a scene; making the entire scene seem contrived. The narrative does take its own time to get off the tracks, as there are a lot of explanations and insights into the history and issues between the various factions of the supernatural world. There’s actually a lot going on in the book and one feels that the back stories could have been streamlined better or introduced in measured form in the subsequent books.                                                                                                                                           The start of the novel including the opening scene itself begins in a rather clichéd and stereotypical manner, but then on out and thankfully, it breaks all conventions and shatters every possible preconceived notion you might have had about the plot. The author also tries to show that personal greed, malfeasance and politics rules the roost in the supernatural world just like it does in the mortal world. The novel that does a good job in scaring you is also a raunchy, hot & fun read that delves deep into the friendships, love and family affairs of the supernatural world.

The dialogue writing deserves special mention; for being acutely aware of the irony in it and embracing it wholeheartedly. This kind of offhanded humor can be found throughout the book. Bordering on self deprecation at times, the narrative has the awareness and more importantly the willingness to remind the reader that at the end of the day it’s just a fictional story. 

The characters aren’t portrayed as simple one dimensional being and the complexities in their character are explored to an extent by hinting at their tumultuous past. Jesse and Adalious are similar in that both of them have a troubled past and have great difficulty in adjusting to their present reality. Jesse and Adalious are also able to suss each other out from their very first meeting. And even though they have contrasting personalities, they have great chemistry together and keeps the reader engaged at all times.

There’s a sequence in the book involving Jesse in an abandoned house; the description of it takes the cake in concocting a macabre-ish, nightmare of elm street on steroids horror sequence; it’s easily the best written scene that I have come across in recent horror books. There’s plenty of blood, gore, and violence involving supernatural beings and hybrid monsters committing unspeakable acts of terror, it’s definitely not for the weak of stomach.

Shrugging off the early displayed lethargy, the narrative soon becomes taut, chilling, and extremely effective in creating the horror mood. All in all, ‘Seasons of Pain’ is a hi-octane, horror-action novel which establishes a good set of characters and a solid setting for the subsequent books in the series.

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