The front cover of Forging a Nightmare by Patricia A. Jackman. There is a man in a grey suit and red tie with black hair in the middle of the page. Behind him is a black horse with a green flame mane that is curling around the man and whipping at his clothing.

Forging a Nightmare

FORGING A NIGHTMARE by Patricia A. Jackson from @angryrobotbooks #BookReview #Fantasy

FORGING A NIGHTMARE by Patricia A. Jackson

Angry Robot Books, s/b, £9.99

Reviewed by Matthew Johns

The front cover of Forging a Nightmare by Patricia A. Jackman. There is a man in a grey suit and red tie with black hair in the middle of the page. Behind him is a black horse with a green flame mane that is curling around the man and whipping at his clothing.

Michael Childs is an FBI agent who has a penchant for jousting, chainmail armour, swordplay and Renaissance pageantry. A serial killer in Manhattan has been targeting people born with twelve fingers and toes (aka polydactyly, fact fans) – cutting off their eyelids, removing their tongues and carving strange sigils into their flesh. All pretty strange, but when Michael follows a lead to a race track and gets badly beaten by a supposedly dead ex-Marine, things quickly spiral into a whole new world of weird for him.

His mother recognises the sigils as being a ritual in the ancient language of the angels – Enochian. She also reveals that those born with twelve fingers and toes are Nephilim, children of angels mated with humans and that Michael himself is one of those, having had his additional fingers and toes amputated at a young age so that he wouldn’t stand out.

After a while, things get even stranger for poor Michael as he finds out that he is the son of an archangel, and he becomes one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse; Famine. His steed is none other than the supposedly dead ex-Marine that beat him up earlier in the book, Anaba Raines. Michael goes on a literal journey from Hell to Heaven (and back again) as part of his awakening into the role of a Horseman.

Jackson weaves a complicated tale – filled with angels, demons, Christian lore, occult practices, horsemen and more. Clearly much research went into this – to the point that there is a page explaining some of the sigils and an 11-page glossary of terms at the back of the book! The themes that the book explores are pretty standard fare for any fantasy novel – good versus evil, love, death, etc., but Jackson makes the book stand out through the sheer level of detail that she goes into with it all.

All in all, this is an enjoyable adventure, but one that will make you think and possibly even stop to look up some of the terms used in the book!

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