Apparently Chelsea Avenue is a real location in Long Branch, New Jersey. The Murphy's Law Club was a real place. On July 8th, 1987, the famous Haunted House on the pier in Long Branch did burn down. From that nugget of news Armand Rosamilia has drawn on his imagination and produced this haunting story.
How to classify it?
Ghosty, not really but very haunting.
Gore laden, nope but still shocking and murderous.
Apocalyptic, definite potential.
Horror, Thriller or Fantasy, none but all.
I cannot label this book which is really frustrating! But I do know it gave me the chills, satisfied by need for spooky, horror and weird all at the same time.
On the night of July 8th, Murphy’s Law night club is the site Wiy of the Water has chosen to try and attain Ascension; becoming a god over the humans, demanding their worship.
However, his brothers (other elementals of Fire, Earth and Wind) decide this is not a good idea for mankind and thwart his plans with a binding spell, causing a life changing fire and so begins the dark tale of sacrifice, murder and control as Wiy acts out his revenge.
Manny is the main character and focus; a young man who watched his friends and family (the owners of the nightclub) perish in the fire, losing his home and future in one horrifying night, he is also the tether that binds all the goings on in the following 15 years.
I loved how each chapter represented a leap forward in the years, focusing on the same date, the anniversary of the fire which also happens to be Manny’s birthday.
This allowed for big progressions in his life and the overall story. AR was so eloquent in his ability to proffer a single snappy line into a years’ worth of history easily keeping you update to date as he enters the police force, climbs the ranks, falls in love, marries, mucks it up and eventually gets dragged into hell as that fateful night pulls on his subconscious via a series of dreams and nightmares.
However, he is not the only one having these dreams and all those connected with the fire succumb to Wiy’s power, pull and vicious need for worship.
With Detective Tankard as his senior, he and Manny eventually admit to each other that there must be a supernatural link as new dead bodies keep arriving at the abandoned lot on Chelsea Avenue each year.
I was confused at first as to why the police did not simply stake out the Lot and provide protection but this issue is dealt with later in the book and shows again, how intricate and wonderful the AR brain works in delivering a balanced story and not just using characters, scenes and places for convenience of storytelling.
As each year brings the death toll up, the tension increases and the murders seem to get more gruesome. It is at this moment that AR allows you into the minds of some of the victims and a new element of horror occurs. The total helplessness of each victim as they are forced to return to Chelsea Avenue and commit horrific murders and mutilations whilst fully aware but unable to stop themselves gives a chill up the spine.
AR’s character building talent is evident in all his books but especially so in this one. Each character is given a strong back story; just enough so that when they die you feel a full tug and sadness at their loss.
However just when I was getting bored with new characters being introduced (remember this is over a 15year period) just to get killed off the story takes a massive leap into the present and the obvious danger that is looming.
As the actions kicks up a gear AR rockets the reader to an elemental show down of immense power. I could almost taste the salty water and feel the fire and smoke.
I hope the cliffhanger was an intentional plot twist as this story is far from over. I want more about these elemental gods, more apocalyptic world domination attempts and more brilliant writing from the mind of AR.