Review Corner: Fiendilkfjeld Castle by Matthew Pungitore

Fiendilkfjeld Castle by Matthew Pungitore

Reviewed by Morgan K. Tanner

I knew little about this book before taking the plunge but the cover told me everything I needed to know; Gothic Horror. Reading the synopsis cemented the genre and I was excited to delve inside and visit the creepy Fiendilkfjeld Castle.

Theodemir Fiendilkfjeld is a dude with little going well in his life. Yeah, he has lots of money, but can money buy you happiness? Well, no, not in Theo’s case. He has people he refers to as friends, but there’s no real friendship there. They just want his moolah.

These ‘friends’ get their kicks from the abhorred practice of grave-robbing, as you do. This is something Theodemir tries to distance himself from.

Theodemir longs for something more, in many ways he feels like it’s his destiny to escape this ‘normal’ world and pursue his rightful calling in life. Although he’s not quite sure what this is.

When he begins seeing a beautiful woman in his dreams who is seemingly trapped in an old castle, he convinces himself the dreams mean something. A descendant of the notorious aristocratic family, the Fiendilkfjelds, he has a strong feeling that the castle he sees in his dream is the one his family own.

Before long he is approached by a detective, Roman, who is investigating the disappearance of a young woman. When Theodemir sees her picture and recognises her as dream-lady, it’s a no-brainer that he agrees to help Roman in his quest to find her.

I found the idea of a dude having prophetic visions really great, and the book had me in these early stages. As the pair travel to the castle, things start to up the ante in the creeps department. The people living in the area around the castle are reluctant to say anything about the noble family and treat Theodemir with contempt. Electrical devices seldom work in and around the castle, and everything seemed so strange and almost otherworldly.

The descriptions of the castle were delivered in grandiose gothical glory. The place held a real unnerving atmosphere in the way it was portrayed. If it was me I’d have turned round instantly and began eating cheese at night to give myself different dreams, family or no family!

But Theo wasn’t to be deterred. He eventually meets his distant family, then things suddenly turn weird.

I don’t want to say too much about exactly what happens, but there are lots of dream sequences, monsters, vampires, werewolves, murder, and violence. The dreams in particular are very strange, with Theo suddenly feeling like the castle is changing his behaviour and thoughts. He goes from attacking and killing servants, to awakening in his bed with a hangover-like head and little memory of his actions.

These dreams did get a little confusing and after a while they kind of lost their punch, as Theodemir’s experiences became less “Woah, what?” and more “OK, is this another dream then?”

One thing that I couldn’t get past in this story was Theodemir as a character. I was not his biggest fan, it’s fair to say. Yeah I realise he’s a guy with lots of issues, probably more psychological ones than he admits to, but he did come across as a Mr Whiney-Pants on many occasions. His descriptions of how people ‘spoke to him but didn’t really want to’ had me pleading with the pages for him to just grow some balls.

The violence and death in this book could have been delivered with a bit more BOOM, too. There were action and death sequences that took place in only a paragraph or two. OK, so the plot moved quickly because of this and more things could be revealed, but when someone is stabbed and decapitated I want to feel the death. I want to experience the sensation as the knife slides in. I want to know what the character feels as the victim’s blood flows. I want to hear the sounds of bones breaking and lives ending. A lot of the deaths here could have been embellished a lot more. On many occasions they came over a little too matter-of-fact.

But that being said the story is an interesting one with the theme of dreams vs reality playing centre stage. The soul and dream-eating vampires was another avenue of this novel that I didn’t see coming, but I’ll let you discover those darlings for yourself.

As the book reaches its conclusion, Theo discovers exactly why he has felt like this for all his life. I was really keen to find out what was going to happen, and this thirst for knowledge really kept me going. There is a beast inside him, one that will infect his mind and soul forever.

I wasn’t feeling this book as much as I’d hoped; if the action sequences had been delivered with the same attention as the descriptions of the gothic castle then I’d probably be raving about it.

But for fans of gothic horror it is certainly worth checking out.

-MKT

 


About Morgan K. Tanner

Morgan K Tanner is a writer, drummer, and golfist currently residing in the English countryside. The idyllic surroundings make it an ideal place to write, drum, and hide the bodies. The busy sound of the typewriter is perfect to drown out the hum of the antiquated torture equipment.

When he’s not writing or inflicting pain and suffering on his numerous victims, he indulges himself in all things horror and metal.

You can praise or indeed abuse him by visiting www.morganktanner.com or find him on Twitter @morgantanner666.

His novella, An Army of Skin, and short story collection, The Mind’s Plague and Other Bites of Brutality, are available now.