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Reviewed by Nino Lobiladze for Readers' Favorite
Aldous Crane, a professor studying folklore and the occult, gets an irritating phone call at three in the morning. Morris Archer, a dealer of rare collectibles, asks Aldous to go to the wine cellar of the eccentric collector, Matthew Boudin, and deliver him six very special bottles. Aldous is famous for his skepticism toward the supernatural after exposing a fraudulent psychic, Tammy Wynne, on TV. Crane is asked to accomplish the task in a cellar considered haunted by the evil spirit of its late owner. The previously hired experts couldn't finish the task, horrified by the overwhelming presence of the preserved body of Boudin in his cellar, and the dark secrets hidden in its depths. Will Aldous Crane find the wine and leave the cellar safe and sound? And will he help Tammy deal with her demons after being caught in a web of lies? Five Demons by Marc Layton is for fans of horror, suspense, and mystery.
Marc Layton reveals all shades of darkness in Five Demons and it is not for the faint of heart; the dark imagery is impressive enough to disturb your sleep. I like that each part of the story narrates an individual tale with its logical conclusion, but together they form an integral plotline. The themes vary from a classic ghost in the attic to an eerie exhibition of curiosities with vengeance as a connecting element. Layton's characters are vivid and multidimensional and their development is remarkable as Aldous throws away his skepticism to face the paranormal fully equipped with knowledge. Tammy is another interesting character who learns her lessons the hard way to become a better person. The narrative is engaging, with unpredictable twists and turns. Layton perfectly conveys the unique ambiance of New Orleans, represented by the haunted wine cellar with its forbidden fruits. At the same time, it is not just an entertaining read. He also touches on the themes of racism and social injustice, exposing cruelty inherent to human beings and not just supernatural entities. Layton brilliantly shows a connection between our vicious deeds and other-worldly consequences, stating that we create the layers of hell with our own hands.