The Reprobation Series

A Supernatural Thriller

Fiction - Crime
691 Pages
Reviewed on 04/26/2023
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

The Reprobation Series: A Supernatural Thriller is a work of fiction in the mystery, paranormal and suspense subgenres. It is best suited to the general adult reading audience and was penned by author Catherine Fearns. In this collection of three novels - Reprobation, Consuming Fire, and Sound – we follow the exploits of Detective Inspector Darren Swift as a sinister crime wave hits the streets of Liverpool, England. The grisly scenes that Darren witnesses lead him to believe (much as he wishes it wasn’t the case) that something otherworldly is happening, and so Swift takes on expert eschatologist Sister Helen Hope and death metal guitarist Mikko Kristensen, but can this unlikely alliance crack the case before death strikes again?

Author Catherine Fearns has all the ingredients that a superb suspense writer needs to craft a fully immersive and cinematic mystery, from her precise attention to detail in character development to the intricately crafted plot hooks and the atmospheric backdrop of life on the Mersey. As a Cheshire resident myself and a long-time visitor to Liverpool, Fearns captures all the ambiance, variance, and ghostly potential that this gem of a city has to offer, and she’s especially astute in the sharp parlance of her Scouse detective Darren Swift. His wry humor cuts through the gore and grotesque elements of the work to offer balance, although fans of graphic horror will also find themselves fully satisfied by the grisly but beautifully-penned scenes that will shock them throughout the journey of these three novels. The pace moved superbly well considering I was reading a whole trilogy, and there was never a dull moment that made the whole experience hard to leave behind. Overall, I would not hesitate to recommend The Reprobation Series to fans of sharply-penned British thrillers, supernatural horror, and character-led tales with plenty of wit.

Delene Vrey

The Reprobation Series by Catherine Fearns is a supernatural thriller box set situated in Liverpool. In the first, Reprobation, DI Darren Swift is given his first big murder case: a young man crucified on the beach. Through his investigation, he meets Sister Helen Hope, a Calvinist nun. She starts her own investigation into the circumstances surrounding the murdered young man. She encounters and becomes friends with the lead singer of Total Depravity, a Norwegian Death Metal band. Together the three come to the same conclusion and race to save the life of a baby and a kidnapped criminal from a fanatic scientist and his accomplice. The second book, Consuming Fire, finds DI Darren Swift investigating the fiery death of an Albanian woman in a city caught in a heatwave. As the heat escalates, there are more unexplained fiery deaths. When an inner-city fire shakes the city of Liverpool, Darren’s life comes to a traumatizing halt. But to talk about his nightmares and the supernatural nature of his investigation would only bring a kind of trouble he cannot afford. The third book, Sound, continues where Consuming Fire ended. When an Acoustics Professor is found dead in his office at Liverpool University, Darren is called in to investigate. Sound brings the series full circle and ends on the same suspenseful tone that is prevalent in the first paragraph in Reprobate.

The Reprobation Series by Catherine Fearns is powerfully written and excellently delivered. It is well written and has few explicit violent scenes and language. The series weaves together Calvinist doctrine with demonology and ties it together with a Death Metal twist. Though the content is fictional, the use of factual beliefs and philosophy conjures up a suspenseful and unsettling tale. Ms. Fearns uses impeccable language, register, and tone that emphasize the characters' intelligence and thought processes. She has done immense research, and one cannot help but look up the names and facts she mentions, which adds to the terrifying effect of the whole presentation of the books. A truly riveting and thrilling read.

Asher Syed

The Reprobation Series by Catherine Fearns is a supernatural thriller and the three-in-one omnibus of book one, Reprobation, book two, Consuming Fire, and book three, Sound. The series revolves around an academic nun named Dr/Sister Helen Hope, a Calvinist that believes everyone's afterlife in either heaven or hell is predestined. A body is found in a ritualistic murder and staging, and Sister Helen is asked to consult on scripture. On the investigation is the very green DI Darren Swift, DC Colette Quinn, and a Scandi metalhead named Mikko Kristensen. Sister Helen's backstory is slowly revealed and so too is the dark past of her faith, whereas the second book digs into the occultist upbringing of DI Swift as an investigation into a string of fires, including animals and spontaneous human combustion, emerges. Like Sister Helen, Swift believes there is more in the world than we are able to see, but this conflicts with everything he's been trained on. It also proves deadly to those he loves most. The final part brings Swift, Sister Helen, and the left-behind Mikko back together when a murder occurs and the link to a literal soundwave creating disorientation and illness is the weapon of choice.

Because The Reprobation Series is three books in a single volume, there's a lot to unpack as each of Catherine Fearns' fantastically written installments could easily stand on its own. But what would be the fun in that? Only one Sister Helen? The world is scary enough without her in it, even fictionally. I had the most fun with the first book because getting to know a protagonist, especially one as complex as a nun with a controversial view who struggles with her academic/faith balance, is intriguing. I loved the push and pull with Mikko, who says things I would be too ashamed to say in front of one of my gross brothers, let alone a nun. I loved the shift in book two because, as it turns out, DI Swift is also pretty darn complicated. There is a devastating twist in this installment that required a time-out for me. It was a set-the-book-down and whisper, “WTF,” moment. Sound pushes through at...the speed of sound? It's fast-paced and dark and intelligent, as is the rest of the series, but this particular book was a great way to wrap up an omnibus. The writing and dialogue are exceptional, and Liverpool becomes almost a character in its own right. Will I be back for more? Yes, and hopefully not going mad at home while waiting.

Jamie Michele

Catherine Fearns offers up Reprobation, Consuming Fire, and Sound, all three novels in The Reprobation Series, together for the first time. All three books consistently have Fearns' two main characters in the supernatural mystery series: the Calvinist nun Dr. Helen Hope and lead detective Darren Swift. Others are in one or more of the books as well but none more entertaining than the blistering member of a metal band named Mikko, who is twice working with Sister Helen. The mysteries evolve in each book. In Reprobation, there is a murder that suggests ritual suppression and launches the protagonists. Consuming Fire has a plot where murder by arson is the driver. Sound focuses on manipulation and murder via sonic attack.

Catherine Fearns' storylines are so unique and her characters so thoroughly developed that I finished The Reprobation Series in a single weekend. Coming from a family where when asked what my father's religion is, I always heard the word 'academic', whereas my mother was deeply religious, I could connect with Sister Helen on a meaningful level. The push and pull to make sense of fact-based secular data and deep faith in light of the things to which there are no concrete answers is poignant. The character dynamics with one another are interesting because Sister Helen, Darren Swift, Mikko, and others are all very different in outlook but similar in more ways than immediately noticeable. Fearns writes with a strong command of the subject matter, a clear narrative voice, and excellent dialogue, and deserves bonus points for a Liverpool setting. Very highly recommended.

Ammaarah Seboa

Reprobation by Catherine Fearns intertwines the fates of Sister Helen, a Calvinist nun, and death metal musician, Mikko Kristensen. Brought together by a string of murders, the two launch their own investigation to find a missing statistician after being questioned by the police as murder suspects in the recent serial killings. What they discover has them questioning the notion of death and the hereafter. This novel takes you on a rollercoaster of emotions as the puzzle pieces start fitting together. This is a must-read for all murder mystery and true crime lovers!

AlthoughReprobation has a slow start, things start to pick up after we are introduced to the main characters. This is also when things start to get interesting and connections to the novel’s main argument and title are made. The main argument author Catherine Fearns presents to readers in Reprobation is whether we are born predestined to sin or whether the scale only tips after birth. In Calvinism, reprobation is defined as those who are predestined to damnation, and it is what ties the characters of Sister Helen and Mikko together. As the title suggests, death and reprobation are the two main themes in this novel. The characters of Sister Helen and Mikko are no strangers to these concepts. Where one had a near-death experience, the other is repenting to save their soul from eternal damnation. Even though it was a bit philosophical in nature, I really enjoyed this book. It is truly a masterpiece and I cannot wait for the next installment!