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Book Review: Mithras Court by David A. Page

# Genre: Suspense, Horror, Paranormal Fantasy
# Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
# Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
# Publication Date: November 4, 2008
# ISBN-10: 0786950684
# ISBN-13: 978-0786950683
# Author Website: David A. Page

The year is 1892. The place, London. Two years previously, Lewis Wentworth lost his wife to a brutal stabbing on the London Underground by a man with a snake tattoo. Vowing vengeance, Lewis has spent the last two years of his life riding the train, searching the night for his wife’s killer, seeking revenge for the loss of his love.

So begins Mithras Court, the second novel by author David A. Page. In this story, Lewis and a train car full of passengers, including Lewis nemesis, is suddenly and inexplicably thrust into Mithras Court, a neighborhood of London that has fallen into a pocket universe by some inexplicable magic. On their arrival, Lewis and his fellow newcomers are assaulted by the walking dead, losing no few of their number to their claws. And things only get worse for the companions from there. Mithras Court is ruled over by Lord Knight, a mysterious figure who rules his four block territory with an iron fist.None of the inhabitants will help them, and even as Lewis and his companions search for release from the terrors of Mithras Court, Knight begins to take a personal interest in these newcomers.

Page writes a truly frightening tale. Like many suspense tales, a group of disparate people are thrust into a situation where they are trapped, and characters are picked off one by one, dying in various ways. But what makes this story different from other horror tales of similar plot lines is the way that Page brings in the mythology of Mithras, and how the story reads more like a quest novel than a typical horror narrative. Lewis and his companions are given setback after setback, and yet Lewis doggedly pursues his vendetta against the man with the snake tattoo, and also does his best to lead his companions out of Mithras Court, much as any hero would do in a heroic fantasy. But there is a twist to this tale in its ending that keeps it from being that.

This novel had me reading long into the night. Page kept the just the right of suspense that I had to keep reading, each chapter ending with a cliffhanger, but not so as to feel repetitious. Too, Lewis’ honorable actions and constant battle inside himself between his personal revenge and the need to do right by his companions make him an intriguing character.

Page does make a few mistakes. For instance, he belabors the point of Lewis love for his wife a bit heavily, almost to the point of annoyance for the reader. But this is easily glossed over in the fast reading provided by the suspenseful nature of the plot. Also, Page seems to violate his own world when he states that Mithras Court has been in existence for thirty-five years, yet the underground which brings Lewis and his companions there had only existed for two years. How then could Mithras Court have an underground station? This seems to violate the timeline that Page has provided, and while “magic” could explain this, Page does not explain it at all. And too, it could be said that there is a little deus ex machina at work in the role of Elise an in some small way, the Vistani. They could be seen as contrivances to keep the plot moving, and get Lewis out of predicaments the author could so no other way out of, but my own feeling is that they are integral to the plot and there continued role throughout puts the lie to any claim that they are literary conveniences only.

But these are minor, nitpicky items that only critics are likely to notice. To the casual reader, what you will find is a frightening, suspenseful tale of a man doing the best he can against powerful evil forces while at the same time treasuring a love he lost in the best way he knows how. But this story is not heroic fantasy where all is hunky dory by the end. Mithras Court‘s narrative holds much in common with the work of literary ancestor Edgar Allen Poe in its dark conclusion.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. I found it to have a powerful amount of suspense that just kept me reading, even when I would have wished to lay it down. It was quite out of the scope of my usual reading, and so had a novelty that added to its value, but even so, David Page is a good world builder with an exciting plot. Mithras Court is worth a read for any fans of scary or dark fantasy tales, where all does not always turn out well. Too, with the modern craze for zombies, readers of those novels will find some in Mithras Court that are quite terrifying. I found Mithras Court to be an excellent and exciting tale that I recommend you read in the fullness of day.

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