World's End (Age of Misrule, Book 1) by Mark Chadbourn
I'm not even quite sure how I felt about this novel. I'm not going to rush out to get the sequel but I definitely will probably order it in the near future. Is it possible to like a novel and the story and the premise but not care about the characters/dislike them/ be kind of annoyed with them? Because that's how I felt about this novel. I really didn't like the characters much for the most part.
The novel begins with Church and Ruth as they separately stumble upon the same murder scene in an attempt to help. However, when they see the killer, they both pass out and can't remember exactly what happened beyond a certain point. That night continues to haunt them, and they begin to search for answers together, though the answers seem to point to the impossible.
They soon stumble upon Tom, an old hippie while under attack by seemingly impossible beings, and he starts explaining some things to them. Very cryptically. The old gods and fantastical beings really existed, and are coming back to the world at this time, wreaking havoc with the rules of science, and bringing the potential for darkness and horror. The creatures that were most commonly associated with good (or at least not as evil) have been trapped by the evil and vicious supernatural beings so there is no one to stand against them. Church and Ruth discover that they are two of a group of five that together is supposed to stand against the rise of this darkness and free the others.
Now, I realize that if the characters begin believing in supernatural elements too quickly, it seems unrealistic. However, with everything Ruth and Church had witnessed, I got irritated rather quickly with how much they still wanted to play doubting Thomases when Tom tried to explain things to them (also since I'm purposely reading a fantasy novel, I obviously want to focus on the fantastical aspect rather than keep hearing about how it's impossible). The whole novel seemed to go back and forth between them quickly grasping what was going on and then suddenly going all Scully on the guy and the situation again.
They naturally accumulate the other three as they go, and are given a quest to search for four supernatural items, a stone, a sword, a spear and a cauldron. Of these other three, I liked Veitch the most. Laura was a character that I almost could have liked but she also irritated me. On the one hand, she was rather saracastic, which I enjoyed but the author kept trying to shove the whole "emotionally vulnerable underneath the tough girl act" cliche down my throat and it got annoying very fast. Every time she made a sarcastic comment, there was another sentence about how it showed her hope underneath it . . . blah, blah, blah. Ruth started out as intelligent but quickly became a bit of a goody two shoes, as Laura liked to point out. And I could have done without the love triangle aspect of it all.
Still, I enjoyed the way the novel incorporated old Celtic myths and the idea of the quest. Church was the one character that became less annoying as the novel progressed which was good. As I said, I like the story line and hopefully, the characters will be less one dimensional and more developed in the next part of the novel.