Author: Barbara Avon
Published by: Independently Published
Publication date: 26th Oct 2020
Genre: Psychological Fiction
Source: Personal Collection
Wayward priest Cris Corelli rids himself of the sacred collar and leaves town, boarding the midnight train with no destination in mind. Satan is following him – lurking in the shadows.
Corelli finds himself at an unassuming boarding house run by beautiful, yet tortured, Jules. She has her own secrets. They are the kind that echo in the mind, despite the screams that are meant to drown them.
On Thanksgiving Day, 1985, Cris and Jules are bonded by a senseless act of violence that brings the small town to its knees.
They indulge in drugs and alcohol to numb the pain, and together, they teeter on the edge of darkness.
What they don’t yet know, is that Satan still lurks.
Sacrilege follows the story of Cris Corelli, a disillusioned ex-Priest, searching for something more to life than he has previously had on the table. His journey takes him to the doors of Jules boarding house and through the motions of shared tragedy, loss and pain.
The layout of this book is sublime; the introductions to the chapters come in the form of Cris Corellis diary and they lead the reader into each chapters outcome without giving the story away. They serve as a masterful warning for the events that are about to happen without revealing the individual elements. They also serve as a brilliant insight into lead character, Cris Corelli. A man plagued by his own inner demons to the point of having to run away from his former life as a Priest and into the home of Jules, a woman with her own tortured past.
The two characters, Jules and Cris, over time form an unbreakable bond, but how they come together, how they clash and open up to one another, is both heart-warming and tragic. The limited snippets of romance are off-set by utterly tragic events that are mirrored in how the characters act and react to one another. Both the plot and the lead characters weave together so well, Sacrilege makes for a riveting read.
There is a real feeling of crisis to this books, especially after some of the key, turning events. A desperation and frantic need to escape what the characters are heading for, yet the inability to do anything about it. While the characters fall for one another they also fall into place – their place being rock bottom. Whenever you think that things couldn’t get worse for the two, their blossoming relationship and those around them. They do.
What has happened to these character to make them feel so bleak about their lives is completely believable. There are traumas to them that start off as easily acceptable events that are built upon as the story progresses that as the end comes it’s a realistic outcome. Their lives have been shaped by the events they live through and the self-destructive path they end up on feels so real it’s hard not to believe them. They endure torturous events that would cripple even the most mentally sound character; but they don’t start as such, so it’s an effortless jump to see how they end up as they do.
The descriptive manner in which Barbara Avon has written Sacrilege aids to the understanding of the levels of trauma that the characters go through. Each scene is crafted with such care that there is an easy to imagine world. The dialogue between the characters so stilted at times it’s hard to understand how or why the two came together; but in the end we are rewarded with a delightfully complicated relationship that feels organic and utterly destructive. It’s this unconventional romance that gripped me more than the horror and thriller elements of the story.
At 115 pages, Sacrilege is a relatively short read, but light-hearted and easy to digest, it is not. There are multiple dark themes throughout the book that, at times, are hard to cope with. Ranging from impersonal confessions that Cris Corelli has had to endure during his work to them more impactful events that surround him and Jules in the life that he has escaped to; this is a very dark piece of writing – personally, I adore dark themes and am always grateful when an author doesn’t shy away from them. But, Sacrilege, isn’t a chocolate-box, flowery, romance. There are adequate warnings in the books full blurb, but I wanted to reiterate them in my review, as not everyone pays attention to warning notices.
A heart-wrenchingly tragic tale of loss, trauma and self-destructive coping mechanisms. Well-written characters that are thought-provoking and have such strong personalities, even through the events that they are subjected too. An all-round fantastic introduction to a superb author, but the dark themes might be a bit to much to handle for sensitive readers