READ TIME: 4 MIN
So, um, “Sacrifice” by Andrew Boylan.
I read this little book way back in 2017, and I’ll admit, I didn’t love it. So, when it came time to write this review, I put it off for a few days. Which turned into a few months. And then into a few years.
My procrastination skills are top-notch.
But now, the time has finally come. Let’s talk about it, shall we?
I stumbled across “Sacrifice” while browsing Kindle’s 99-cent bin. While I don’t normally gravitate toward the horror genre, I found the synopsis of “Sacrifice” intriguing, and I was in one of those collect-all-the-books-I’ll-never-have-time-to-read moods, so why not?
The book, which blends fact and fiction, opens with struggling filmmaker Benny Hernandez photographing the scene of a gruesome car crash in which the passenger (or victim?) has some nasty wounds that seem eerily familiar.
Later, Benny learns that his ex-girlfriend is convinced that a deadly, ancient cult has resurfaced in their small New Mexico hometown.
Benny decides to investigate. This could be his big break!
But in his pursuit of a blockbuster, he becomes entrenched in a secretive world characterized by drugs, religion, and all things danger.
Despite all its compelling ingredients, the story didn’t hold my attention, primarily because I kept getting distracted by the convoluted writing.
From the get-go, it was frequently hard to follow what was happening, and it was equally difficult to determine exactly which character was doing or saying something. This confusion can probably be attributed to a few things: 1) uncontextualized vocabulary, 2) ambiguous dialogue tags, and 3) multiple indistinct points of view.
Additionally, I repeatedly found myself nit-picking the semantics. For instance, I disagree with Boylan that Mike and Ike candies would “jangle” in someone’s pocket.
I also couldn’t help but notice several instances of poor sentence structure.
And typos. Typos galore. Granted, it was a book from Kindle’s cheapie bin, and it was the first digital version, so that part might be expected. (Now Kindle has a version published in 2019, so there may be fewer typos compared to the version I read.)
And while “Sacrifice” has a decent number of characters, none of them have any real depth, so it was hard for me to connect or relate with any of them.
The book is at least well-researched. Boylan clearly tried to deliver a believable story rooted in truth. His talent as a researcher is evident. (Fun fact: Boylan used to conduct research for programs like “Dan Rather Reports.”)
However, details are often clumsy and clunky, which distracts from the plot and dulls the imagery.
If you can muddle all the way through, you’ll be rewarded with a satisfactory (ish) ending where everything comes together in a neat little package. The gory horror show that concludes “Sacrifice” is inevitable, so while it’s certainly tense, it’s not shocking.
Then we get an epilogue where we learn about the dwindling affection between Benny and his love interest, Diana. This part feels really disconnected from the rest of the story, particularly in terms of mood, but also tone.
Overall, “Sacrifice” would have benefitted from another round or two of content editing followed by good old copyediting.
To be fair, “Sacrifice” is Boylan’s debut novel, and he’s probably just honing his craft still.
On a more positive note, I give Boylan lots of credit for selecting a fresh topic. “Sacrifice” introduced me to a bit of New Mexico history, including the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, which I previously knew nothing about.
I’m not sure what to say about any underlying message. Perhaps Boylan intended to explore how love, whether familial, romantic, or otherwise, can manifest in various ways. Throughout the story, he conveys how actions based on love can be drastically different, some being positive and others, well, not so positive.
This book is hands down for an adult audience. It’s short and could probably be read start to finish in one sitting. If you’re someone who gravitates toward true-crime podcasts and cult documentaries, it wouldn’t hurt to give “Sacrifice” a try.
It just wasn’t for me.
Title: Sacrifice (Kindle Edition)
Author: Andrew Boylan
Publisher: Black Rose Writing
Publication date: November 10, 2016
Kindle price: $4.99
Print list price: $14.99
Print ISBN: 9781612967844
Page count: 197
This article was written by Lauryn Smith.
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