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Reviewed by Lit Amri for Readers' Favorite
In a story set in early 20th century America, a limbless child medium, a deformed young man with special abilities, and a serial killer take on a distinguished presence in The Teratologist (The Teratologist Series: Book One) by Ward Parker. Thirty-six-year-old Dr. Frank Follett studies defects of birth in humans in the fairly new field of teratology. He arrives at Palm Beach, Florida, to meet a two-year-old child named Angelica, famously known as Angel Worm. Born entirely without limbs, she channels the spirits of the deceased, and Follet is able to communicate with his late wife who, unfortunately, gives him an ominous warning. Follet also finds himself hired by the wealthy William Stockhurst to examine his deformed son, Darryl. When Angelica is kidnapped by a serial killer, it becomes a turning point for many events that are hard for the normally skeptic-minded Follet to handle.
True to its era of the early 20th century, prejudice is one of the story themes where racial differences and deformities determine the social hierarchy and etiquette. Science is challenged by the paranormal and the supernatural elements. Some historical figures come alive in The Teratologist, as main characters or otherwise. Using his interest in parapsychology and his love for science, the notable writer Samuel Clemens aka Mark Twain fits well in this story and is a great confidant for Follet, the widowed doctor who’s haunted by his past and the death of his wife and stillborn child. The erudite prose thrums with mystery and suspense where Ward keeps the well-thought out plot moving at a good pace, and reveals the twists and turns at the right moment. Overall, Ward has crafted a great opening to the series. The Teratologist is an excellent read, delivering memorable characters, and with fast-paced and intensely gripping moments. It will surely keep readers enthralled to the very end.