Talion by Mary Maddox
Mary Maddox grew up in Utah and California. A graduate of Knox College and the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she now teaches composition and literature at Eastern Illinois University.
She lives in Charleston, Illinois with her husband, film scholar Joe Heumann. Her interests include riding her horse, Tucker, and playing club and tournament Scrabble. Mary’s short stories have appeared in a number of magazines including Farmer’s Market, Yellow Silk, and The Scream Online. Her writing has been honored with awards from the Illinois Arts Council.
Talion, her debut novel, is available at Barnesandnoble.com as a trade paperback and at Amazon.com as both a paperback and a Kindle book. You can visit her at her Web site www.marymaddox.com and follow her blog at http://blog.marymaddox.com.
The dying body has a thousand voices, and all of them speak to Conrad (Rad) Sanders. Fifteen-year-old Lisa Duncan has no idea she has attracted Rad’s interest. At a mountain resort in Utah, he watches as vivacious Lisa begins an unlikely friendship with Lu Jakes, the strange and introverted daughter of employees there. Lu enters his fantasies as well. He learns she is being abused by her stepmother and toys with the notion of freeing her from her sad life and keeping her awhile as his captive. Lu seems like an easy conquest who could be persuaded to act out his fantasy by turning against her new friend.
But someone else is watching over Lu.
Talion appears to Lu as an angelic vision. He offers her love and counsel, the courage to defend herself from bullies at school and a way to free herself from her stepmother’s violence. He seems to know beforehand what will happen. But Talion’s true nature is unclear. His guidance leads Lu into dark places, moving her inevitably closer to the world inhabited by Rad. When she and Lisa are thrust into that darkness, will Talion come to her aid? Or will he become the killer’s ally?
What Reviewers Are Saying
In spare unflinching scenes, Mary Maddox’s offers up a bold and haunting debut novel with her Talion. Without doubt, there will be readers that will be genuinely disturbed by the cruel and sinister elements of the yarn that focuses on such themes as madness, murder, obsession, sadism, and lust. Nonetheless, after putting the book to rest, I had to admit that it does reflect some of the shocking elements of human nature that, unfortunately, are fundamentally present in our society and are often attributed to the darker side of human nature.
The tale is jump-started when Conrad (Rad) Sanders, using the pseudonym Jonathan Myers, checks into the Hidden Creek Lodge in the fictional town of Deliverance, Utah. Debbie and Hank Darlington are the owners of the lodge, and their beautiful teenage niece Lisa is visiting with them. While Lisa checks out the lodge’s surroundings, she meets Lu, who lives in a trailer with her detestable step-mother Noreen and her alcoholic father, Duane. Lu is depicted as being inept and gawky, who is prone to delusional episodes, where she imagines herself communicating with eery creatures that she names Delatar, Black Claw and Talion. In addition, Lu wishes her step-mother were dead. Duane, who was down-and-out, was hired with his wife to do cleaning and odd jobs around the lodge by his old buddy Hank, who felt sorry for him.
As the story shifts to Rad, readers are exposed to the workings of a deranged and depraved character in all its complexity, who has committed horrendous acts. One caveat, if you are squeamish, I doubt if you will be able to stomach Maddox’s detailed graphic and ghoulish descriptions of unspeakable acts that are not exactly suitable for polite everyday conversation. The boundaries of the noir with its mournful, gloomy and depressive elements are pushed almost to the edge of darkness. On the other hand, I have to admit that the novel’s two hundred and eighty-eight pages are never dull or boring, as Maddox skillfully creates a shocking mix of the bleak atmospheric tones of the macabre with the supernatural, while holding onto the page-turning exhilaration of a real thriller with its superb tension and suspense. This is one haunting read that is sure to give you nightmares!
Mary Maddox teaches composition and literature at Eastern Illinois University. She has dedicated her book to her husband and who, as she states, had faith in her work even when she did not. I would tend to agree with her husband and I hope to read more from this fine author.
-Norm Goldman, Publisher & Editor Bookpleasures
Mary Maddox’s tightly woven thriller is a smooth read, with clear vivid narration and fully formed characters. A sadistic serial killer follows his chosen, teenage victim to a remote lodge in Utah, where she is spending the summer with the owners, her aunt and uncle. When Lisa meets Lu Jakes, the abused and timid daughter of an employee at the lodge, the stalking killer decides that two victims could be better than one. Lu Jakes is particularly interesting to him because she is already dazed and down-trodden. He considers her easy prey. Little does he know that Lu sees things others do not – shining ethereal creatures called Delatar, Black Claw, and Talion. Are they angels, demons, or the hallucinations of a mentally ill girl? Whatever they are, they are the one thing the killer does not expect from his victim.
Despite the teenaged protagonists, this is an adult thriller, with violence on par with Thomas Harris, and not for the squeamish. It was fast paced, compelling, and yes, frightening. Particularly horrifying to me was the easy way the killer gathered information about his intended victim through online surveillance. I thought the supernatural element in the story could have been more fully developed, but overall, this is an exciting and satisfying suspense novel.
– D. Salerni – Amazon Reviewer
I could NOT put this book down! The novel’s beautiful prose lures you into the rush of true suspense thriller. If you think you’re going to stop reading and get back to your work “as soon as I finish this chapter,” Maddox’s perfect timing will have you deciding “to hell with it” and reading the next chapter, and the next, and the next…. Add to the stunning writing and truly frightening plot a lovely, complicated, heartbreaking protagonist, and you have a novel that’s well worth losing a day’s work over.
– Breton – Amazon Reviewer