Graven Images

Fiction - Horror
262 Pages
Reviewed on 12/29/2016
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

Graven Images is a horror novel written by Sherrill Wark. Shaw Falls Police Chief Steve Simpson has a mystery on his hands -- three bodies' worth of mystery. They were all discovered in a fairy tale-like stone cottage hidden on the old Graham property. No one went there anymore, even old Bessie Graham who has the reputation in town for being a black witch. Two of those bodies were long dead: the elderly man's body had been there for decades, while the young girl only a number of years. They might never have been found at all as the cottage was so well hidden except for the adventure and dare of the three young boys who decided to go on a camping trip in the woods. The Collins brothers had slept outside the cottage, while Joey Melzik had brought his sleeping bag inside and camped in the summer kitchen. In the morning, Eddy and Ricky were horrified when they were unable to wake up their friend. Ricky would later tell investigators that Joey had tried to leave the house at one point in the night and complaining that he felt dizzy, but the other boys persuaded him to stay the night. Simpson and his sergeant, Gary Murphy, had never seen anything like that little cottage. The walls inside were filled with elaborate, lifelike, and oddly troubling carvings hewn out of black walnut. The three bodies were perfectly preserved albeit thickly covered with dust. Searching the building, they discovered countless bodies of small animals and insects that were likewise untouched by rot or putrefaction. And only those carvings remained free of the dust that filtered through the air and layered itself inside the cottage. Murphy and Simpson could feel the sheer dread and wrongness emanating from inside that cottage, and a strange sense of lassitude. Relief surged through them as they breathed the outside air again. What had happened to those people and Joey, and would it happen again?

Sherrill Wark's horror novel, Graven Images, blends a paranormal police procedural with one of the most shudder-inducing elder gods stories I've run across. Anyone who has ever thrilled to H.P. Lovecraft's tales of the unearthly elder gods, and the legacy of Cthulhu mythos stories spawned by his creations, will instantly feel that rush of excitement as they begin reading this book. There’s even the epic forbidden tome, the Necronomicon, which resides in the library of parapsychologist Rachel Graye, who together with John, her protege, Miranda Jamieson, the niece of Bessie Graham, and fundamentalist minister, Andrew Coleman, are assisting the police in discovering what is killing people in Shaw Falls and how they can avert an impending catastrophe of earth-shattering significance.

Wark's team of characters is superbly put together. Watching them work as a team and complement each other's strengths and weaknesses is a joy. While I'm sometimes wary of starting a new horror book and discovering the same old zombies hiding within its pages, I was awed by the original, exciting and very spooky story lurking behind the title Graven Images. Fans of psychological thrillers, dark fantasy, police procedurals and the literary tradition of Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos will no doubt find something in this work that makes them smile and keep on reading. I stayed up all night, unwilling to put the book down until I reached the conclusion -- and it was well worth the lost hours of sleep. I'd love to see the characters I've come to know and admire in future books -- they're just too well developed not to merit at least another outing, another weird and eldritch mystery to unravel. Graven Images is a classy and original horror novel that delivers high intensity shudders, unearthly horrors and non-stop action. It's most highly recommended.

Anne-Marie Reynolds

Graven Images by Sherrill Wark is a paranormal horror story. Three bodies in the same house. One recently dead and two from years before, but perfectly preserved. No marks on the bodies, no indications of foul play. What killed them and why haven’t the oldest bodies decomposed? Shaw Falls is in a panic and nobody seems to know the answers. The police chief enlists the aid of a psychic to try to help find out what is going on, and an elderly lady teams up with a troubled minister to try to force a creature from hell back to where it came from. Interference is disturbing things, things that should be left well alone. Will anyone else have to die before the creature can be exorcised?

Graven Images by Sherrill Wark is one of the best horror stories I have read in a while, a neat combination of horror and the paranormal. Ms. Wark has a way with words, using excellent descriptive language to bring the story to life, conjuring up clear images of key points in the story. The plot was exciting, something different, and it certainly kept me hooked all the way through. There were no dead spots, no lagging, just action all the way, plenty going on to keep me reading, at times on the edge of my seat. The characters were very well developed, to the stage that I felt I knew them personally and could identify with them. Very exciting story, brilliantly written, and it would make a great basis for a film. Looking forward to reading more from Ms. Wark in the future.

Kayti Nika Raet

Graven Images by Sherrill Wark is a horror mystery novel set in a small Canadian town in the mid 1980s. As with most small towns of the genre, their quiet nature is shattered with a sudden rise in gruesome deaths. Beginning with a small child found in an abandoned house, along with two other bodies eerily preserved, Shaw Falls police force soon has their hands full with what is proving to be a very malevolent force. The only way to get rid of it is to employ the help of a band of psychics, given instructions by an eccentric old lady. Along with a reluctant minister, together they team up to send the evil forces back before it's too late.

I really enjoyed Graven Images by Sherrill Wark. It was fast paced with an interesting premise that had a bit of a Stephen King feel to it. It is primarily horror, but has a lot of small town mystery thrown in as well. The core cast of characters was unique enough to be memorable and sympathetic as the body count rose. I loved how Wark slowly peeled back the layers of the town, revealing the devastating consequences of prejudice, but also the power of love and faith. Graven Images was a fast paced novel that easily kept my attention, from the first page to the last. With just enough creep factor to have anyone looking over their shoulder at night, Graven Images by Sherrill Wark is a great read for any fan of classic style horror.

Susan Sewell

If you love a story that sends chills shivering down your spine, look no further; Graven Images by Sherrill Wark delivers. It is an incredibly chilling horror story. Something is not quite right with the house hidden away in the backwoods at the old Graham Place. It looked like a house from a fairytale, long forgotten. Few people knew that the house, that once housed a loving couple, even existed. Three boys discovered it when they had spied on and followed the local witch. The trio slipped away from their parents and spent a night camping at the eerie house. The next morning one of the boys was found dead. When the police came to investigate, three other victims were also uncovered. They appeared to have died in the same manner as the young boy, without marks or anything to determine a cause of death.

While the law enforcement officers are scrambling to figure out the mysterious deaths, more bodies are found in the vicinity. They either had their souls siphoned out of them, or their bodies were torn asunder. The evil emanating from the house is gaining strength, and the hordes of hungry soul suckers are increasing and spreading. Nothing can stop the evil spirits as they suck away human life. Will the local preacher, who is having a crisis of faith, be able to make a difference? Is there anyone who can bring an end to these diabolical creatures?

Graven Images by Sherrill Wark is a cleverly written horror story involving the occult. It is a book that haunts dreams and causes nightmares. This gripping tale serves as a caution to the curious. Not everything is as good as it seems, maybe something evil is lurking in its unseen depths. No one would know that evil is trapped within its walls by looking at the forgotten storybook house from the outside. This book is fantastic! I really enjoyed reading it. This is a fascinating and terrifying tale of how misbegotten spells can go very wrong. I was completely enthralled with this book from start to finish and recommend it to those who are fans of horror stories incorporating the darker side of magick.

Melinda Hills

Ten-year-old Joey Melzik died in his sleep on the summer porch of an old cottage no one even knew was in the woods next to the ‘Old Graham Place’. That is just the beginning of the horror in Graven Images by Sherrill Wark. When the coroner can find no cause of death and other strange phenomena are uncovered, even the straight-forward sheriff begins to accept that something out of the ordinary is at work in Shaw Falls. The action quickly escalates as more bodies are discovered around the property, some savagely dismembered. A local psychic and the grandniece of the supposed witch, Bessie Graham, become involved, enlisting the help of Andrew Coleman, a fundamental preacher, in order to close the veil between the mortal and spiritual worlds that had been opened years earlier. Evil forces grow in strength as the full moon approaches. Do the people of Shaw Falls stand a chance of closing the gap and preventing disaster?

Graven Images is a tight, well-written horror story that keeps you turning the pages to see what can possibly happen next. Sherrill Wark has developed strong characters that are subject to a variety of psychological pressures and a back story that demonstrates how evil can subtly take hold. The most amazing aspect of the story, though, is how all the action is woven through the quaint cottage and the masterful woodwork inside – the graven images of lost souls. This is certainly a book well worth reading for a deep-rooted scare that makes you question the boundaries between good and evil.

Ellie Midwood

Whenever I pick up a horror story I expect it to be creepy enough to keep me up at night. “Graven Images” definitely falls into this category: it was not only haunting and dark, but also so vividly written that I felt like I was watching a movie and not reading a book.
The book starts with a scene where an elderly husband buries his wife, and his sorrow and guilt is so deep that we know right away that something sinister took her away. The foreboding feeling emphasizes as we fast forward thirteen years from the event and follow a young runaway, whose dog discovers something that would lead to even more gruesome events. The rest of the story takes place in the 80’s, where an investigating team finds the bodies of not only the old man and the young runaway, but a little boy who spent the night in an abandoned house, its walls made of strangely realistically looking graven images of people…
The suspense in this story was masterfully built up, the mood of the novel getting darker with every page turned. The feeling of the inevitable evil electrifying the air only deepened as the house claimed more victims, growing in strength and now spreading its sinister energy even further. Will a team of a psychic, a priest, a niece of a recently deceased “old witch” be able to contain the dark forces? Read this story and you’ll find out for yourselves. Five very well deserved stars!