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Jason Dark: Ghost Hunter / Guido Henkel

Thunder Peak Publishing  /  March 2010
Reviewed by: Michele Lee

"Your encounter with the extraordinary awaits," claims the tagline of the new Jason Dark: Ghost Hunter series by Guido Henkel. A sort of supernatural Sherlock Holmes, this serial series follows the adventures of Jason Dark, a Victorian London bachelor and Geisterjäger, who is the latest in a long line of ghost hunters.
The series has a feeling very similar to the Gabriel Knight series of video games from 1993, which is not surprising as Henkel is also a video game writer. Each serial is sixty-one pages, fast-paced and action-oriented, much like TV show episodes. Character building is also similar to that found in episodic TV, as each story is focused very tightly on the immediate plot and characters are primarily defined by their choices and actions rather than indicated by histories or reader knowledge of them. At times – particularly in the first book – this reads as somewhat flat, when compared to the more fleshed out forms of character and world-building found in full length novels.

In the first book, Demon's Night, Dark is introduced (again with a style that betrays very little, as if readers are already familiar with him — an aspect that may be off-putting to some) as he gets mixed up in a demon's plot to liberate its master from his prison, in this case an artifact which has recently come to London. Dark is soon joined by his to-be-permanent sidekick, Siu Lin, a Chinese immigrant (and kung fu mistress) whose parents are slaughtered by the demon. Together they must find the demon and stop it from feeding on Londoners to gain the power to unleash its master.

In book two, Theater of Vampires, Dark is invited to a theater performance by his old friend Max, and the show, predictably, is made up of vampires engaging in a very bloody performance before a live audience. The pace of the series really picks up with this book, as Dark and Lin both establish themselves as the sort of people who unquestioningly stand between the innocent (and unknowing) people and the forces of the supernatural who seek to prey on them. Also refreshing is Siu Lin as the fighter of the pair, a capable brawler and tactician in her own right, rather than a mere romantic interest or helpless sidekick.

In book three, Ghosts Templar, Dark and Lin take a field trip trying to find a missing Constable. Instead, they find a town besieged with a 500-year-old curse, where the burned bodies of a group of Templar Knights rise nightly to take their revenge on the decedents of the people who killed them. By this point, Lin and Dark are both rooted very firmly in their cause and their roles as protectors of mankind. Their knowledge now stems from research and deduction rather than sometimes feeling like it's coming out of nowhere.

There are some minor flaws to the overall story, like the questionable loyalty to historical fact (but this is a paranormal series, so there’s some flexibility here), repetitive descriptions, and the nature of the story length that contributes to this serial having a different feel than a full-length novel. The stories themselves, as well as the drama within, are also often familiar and predictable. That said, the tales are all satisfying reads, fleshed out and free of gaping narrative holes.

The Dark books would make fine bus stop or waiting room reads, especially for readers who really enjoy paranormal episodic television, such as Supernatural, Tru Calling, Medium and Ghost Whisperer. Or excellent reads for fans of old mystery series like the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew or the Bobbsey Twins — particularly if you thought adding in a measure of the truly supernatural would have improved those series.

Purchase Jason Dark: Ghost Hunter by Guido Henkel:

Demon's Night

Theater of Vampires

Ghosts Templar

Posted on Friday, May 7, 2010 at 11:02AM by Registered CommenterDark Scribe Magazine in | Comments Off

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