Naomi Clark's Undertow was published by Ragnarok Publications in August 2014.
Information about Naomi Clark:
Naomi Clark lives in Cambridge and is a mild-mannered office worker by day, but a slightly crazed writer by night. She has a perfectly healthy obsession with giant sea creatures and a preference for vodka-based cocktails. When she's not writing, Naomi is probably either reading or watching '80s cartoon shows - sometimes she manages to do all three at once.
Click here to visit the author's official website.
Information about Undertow:
Private Investigator Ethan Banning is a desperate man.
He's desperate to rid himself of the demon possessing him. He's desperate to stop the nightmares and the evil urges that fill him. He's so desperate, he’s agreed to quit smoking and drinking in exchange for help.
Professor Benedict Walters thinks he can exorcise Ethan with clean living and ancient history, but he won't do it for free. Ethan's got to track down Heather, a missing colleague of Walters in the quaint and creepy seaside town of Beacon's Point. It should be simple... but Heather may not want to be found.
Even if Ethan can crack the case, he's still got to deal with a trainee necromancer, his own fading self-control, and an ancient entity that terrifies Ethan's own demonic denizen.
Crack the case? Hells, P.I. Ethan Banning may not even survive it.
A REVIEW OF NAOMI CLARK'S UNDERTOW
Naomi Clark's Undertow was a nice surprise for me, because it turned out to be good entertainment. It's a surprisingly good and entertaining urban fantasy novel.
I've often mentioned to people that I'm difficult to please when it comes to urban fantasy. I confess that I tend to be very skeptical concerning the quality and style of modern urban fantasy novels. Fortunately every once in a while I've come across a few interesting and well written modern urban fantasy novels that have had quality and style in them. Undertow is one of these novels, because - in my opinion - it proudly stands head and shoulders above what has become the norm for modern urban fantasy novels. There's enough style, brutality, surprises and dark humour in it to please even a jaded and skeptical urban fantasy reader like me.
I've heard that Naomi Clark has previously written two stories about Ethan Banning. These stories are called Ungrateful Dead and Demonized. I haven't read them, so I can't say anything about them, but I'm tempted to take a look at them, because I liked this novel. It's good that you don't necessarily have to read them in order to understand what's happening in this novel, because this novel can be read as a standalone novel.
Here's information about the story:
Ethan Banning (a demon-possessed private investigator) accepts a job from Professor Benedict Walters. The professor may be able to assist Ethan in getting rid of the demon. Unfortunately Ethan has to find a missing person - a colleague of the professor, Heather Brooke-Blair - first before the professor will do anything. Ethan will also have to give up drinking and smoking, because the professor believes that it will be good for him and will help him to get rid of the demon. Ethan's assignment takes him and his dog to Beacon's Point where strange things happen. Ethan thinks that the assignment will be easy, but he soon finds out that things aren't as simple as he thought they'd be...
Here's a bit more information about Ethan Banning:
Ethan is a delightfully bad-ass private investigator who's possessed by a demon. The Voice constantly tells Ethan what to do. He's tired of hearing the Voice and he wants to get rid of it, but the demon is strong and getting rid of it isn't easy. Ethan uses drinks, porn and sleeping pills to keep bursts of anger and violence locked inside him. Although Ethan is a bad-ass private investigator, he also has a tender side, because he loves his dog, Mutt, very much.
The demon's opinions and suggestions are morbid and wickedly funny, because it tries to get Ethan to do things that he doesn't want to do. It was enjoyable to read about how Ethan fought against the Voice and tried to stop it from overpowering his self-control. Ethan uses medication (antipsychotics) to control the urges to hurt other people (if Ethan doesn't control himself, he's able to hurt and even kill other people).
I have to mention that it was a pleasure to read about the demon's thoughts when Ethan arrived in Beacon's Point. The demon's thoughts about the place were darkly funny. I won't say what kind of thoughts the demon has, but I'm sure that all readers who love dark and black humour will enjoy reading about them.
Corey Decker, a young necromancer, is an interesting character who dresses as a Goth. I enjoyed reading about his conversations with Ethan, because they were very entertaining, because they talked about all kinds of things, including supernatural entities.
The author uses first person narrative mode in this novel. This narrative mode works perfectly, because Ethan is a flawed person and has quite an attitude. His opinions and thoughts about things are fantastically sarcastic, funny and even offensive (he easily insults people).
As you may have already guessed, this novel contains quite a lot of dark and sarcastic humour. I think it's great that the author has had courage to add this kind of humour to the novel. I've always loved dark and sarcastic humour, so it was very entertaining for me to read this novel.
Most of the happenings take place in Beacon's Point, which is an interesting place, because the houses and stores look weathered and shabby. Although the place is quaint, it seems to have an atmosphere of decay and depression. What makes Beacon's Point an especially interesting place is that it's a portal to the Pale World that allows spirits etc to enter this world.
There are interesting references to Lovecraftian names and elements in this novel, and there are even references to Väinämöinen and Iku-Turso from The Kalevala in this novel. As a Finn I found it interesting that the author used names from The Kalevala. (There are probably readers out there who are unfamiliar with The Kalevala, so it's good to mention that The Kalevala is a 19th-century work of epic poetry compiled by Elias Lönnrot from Karelian and Finnish oral folklore and mythology.)
Because I enjoyed reading this novel, I look forward to reading the sequel, Descent. It'll be fun to read what happens next to Ethan.
Naomi Clark's Undertow is good escapism for everybody who enjoyes reading urban fantasy novels. It's a novel that it is very difficult to put down once you've started reading it, because the story moves fast forward and the protagonist is flawed in an interesting way. It's an entertaining urban fantasy novel.
My final words are: Naomi Clark's Undertow is surprisingly entertaining and gripping urban fantasy!