>Black & Orange by Benjamin Kane Ethridge Now Also an E-Book
Forget everything you know about Halloween. The stories are distortions. They were created to keep the Church of Midnight hidden from the world. Every October 31st a gateway opens to a hostile land of sacrificial magic and chaos. Since the beginning of civilization the Church of Midnight has attempted to open the gateway and unite with its other half, the Church of Morning. Each year they’ve come closer, waiting for the ideal sacrifice to open the gateway permanently.
Tasked with protecting the world from the Churches of Midnight and Morning are Martin and Teresa, the Nomads. They live off the grid, never staying in one place for any length of time, cut off from all ties of family and friendship. Alone save for themselves and letters from the mysterious Messenger. They must protect an innocent human selected to become a sacrifice to the Churches. known as the Heart their sacrifice will unleash energies that open the gates between our world and the Old World that ever bit wider. They can’t afford to fail again, this year it looks as as though the sacrifice will open the gates permanently, condemning our world to an eternity of pain and torture.
Things are looking tough this year for the Nomads, they are running out of money, Teresa is slowly but surely succumbing to cancer, and to make things worse The Heart itself is going to be the hardest one ever to protect. That’s all I’m going to say about the Heart, when you discover who it is, your heart will sink to the pit of your stomach.
Standing against them at every turn are The Bishops and the parishioners of the Churches, Chaplin Cloth and his children who are trapped in the Old World until Halloween. They will do anything and everything to ensure the nomads fail. The Bishops will also do anything to gain a foot hold in the ladder of success in the church. The scheming and power plays of the rival Bishops is a twisted and riveting part of this book.
Black and orange is the début novel by Benjamin Kane Etheridge, and as début novels goes it has been a long time since I have read one with such scope, originality and above all one that is so well written. The story starts with a running jump and never lets up, right up to the heart rendering conclusion. This is no mere simple chase story, there is a depth and thoughtfulness here that is lacking in many novels of this nature. Yet at the same time this book was captivating in many ways it reminds me of early Clive Barker, in terms of scale and imagination.
There is a sense of balance that runs through the book, from the Bishops of the Churches, balancing the power of the black and orange to the balance of power bewteen the Nomads and the Bishops. The Nomads can pull things from the Old World, while the Bishops can send things back to the Old World, such as someone’s someone’s head.
Ethridge has populated this novel with a great cast of characters, that are fully realised. The plight and loneliness of The Nomads is moving and touching. The adversaries are no mere cyphers, the machinations, cruelty and power struggles of the Churches adds a rich deep vein to the to novel. Chaplin Cloth is one hell of an arch-enemy,, and should be inducted into the pantheon of classic villains right away.
Black and Orange is one hell of a novel, I would put this along side Bradbury’s Halloween Tree and Norm Partridge’s Dark Harvest as a Halloween must read. I’ll have great fun reading all three of these again this Halloween
Available to buy here
Edit – Black and Orange is now available as a e-book in all formats from the rather wonderful CROSSROADS PRESS FOR ONLY $5.99 or £3.72 in real money. Fantastic value if you ask me.