Illuminarium, by Truth Devour, is the creative and thought-provoking first installment in the planned five book Soliloquy’s Labyrinth series.
Harper, a forensic psychologist, discovers a book while hiking in a redwood forest. The book isn’t normal and Harper feels compelled to read it. York, the author of the book, describes the horrors he lived through during his stay in a sanitarium many decades ago. York is struggling between good and evil and Harper is glued to the pages. But is the book only a book or is it more? And why did it present itself to Harper?
This fantasy novel is a story within a story. The author’s challenge is to bring to life not only Harper, the main character, but York as well through the book. Major chunks of the novel have Harper reading York’s journal. This is a major risk since many readers crave non-stop action and suspense, not the protagonist sitting down reading. However, it works. York’s life story is compelling and pulls curious readers in. Also, the horrors he describes are terrible, and yet one can’t stop reading. It’s like watching a car accident—you don’t want to look, but a perverse impulse forces you to witness the awful carnage.
Yet, Illuminarium isn’t solely about York. This is actually Harper’s story. All her life she’s felt different, as if wherever she walked, people stopped to stare. Is she simply insecure or is there a reason for the uncomfortable looks? What she discovers is shocking, unbelievable, and confusing. And it makes for excellent and exciting reading.
The author supplies vivid descriptions that figuratively yank the reader into the pages. The pain, the drama, the suffering, and the fear almost become real, heightening the suspense and the feeling of doom. While Harper is being pulled further and further into a contest of good and evil, she’s witnessing through York’s words his own battle between right and wrong. The reader is on pins and needles for both and it’s nearly impossible to set the book aside until the full truth is revealed.
Since this is the first in the series, there’s not much resolution, which may frustrate some. Patient readers will appreciate the groundwork Truth Devour has carefully paved in this installment. There are many moving parts and by the final page it’s hard to determine what’s going to happen next. The excitement is built slowly and succinctly. The only rub is that the next book in the series is not yet available.
Some of the scenes in the book are upsetting and quite frankly disturbing. York’s experiences are filled with heartbreaking violence, physical and sexual, and it makes for uncomfortable, squirm in your seat reading. The author has sprinkled in doses of humor to allow the reader to step back from the intensity of the story and to experience a much needed break. And careful readers will pick up on the underlying philosophical tone of the author’s overall message.
In summary, if you enjoy uniquely plotted fantasy novels with heart, this may be right up your alley.