Ex-priest Travis Dominick and former FBI agent and ex-military soldier Brent Lawson are called to a small town in Pennsylvania by a fellow ex-soldier and friend of Lawson. The town is cursed with people subject to unexplainable and gruesome deaths. After arriving there, Travis and Brent constantly see shadowy creatures that later start attacking them. Can they unravel the mystery behind these attacks before the entire town is wiped out?

C.H.A.R.O.N. is the second book of the “Night Vigil” series by prolific author Gail Z Martin and is part of the shared world of “Deadly Curiosities,” “Fox Hollow,” “Badlands,” and “Witchbane” series. Martin writes the “Night Vigil” and “Deadly Curiosities” series under the name Gail Z Martin and “Fox Hollow,” “Badlands,” and “Witchbane” series (only to name a few), which feature strong LGBTQ characters under the pen name Morgan Brice. Still, they all exist in this shared paranormal universe filled with witches, psychic mediums, monster hunters, and even vampires. Each series primarily takes place in its own corner of the US, and the tone for each is equally diverse as the characters that make them up.

The “Night Vigil” series has Travis Dominick and Brent Lawson as its protagonists. Travis is an ex-priest and served in a Black Ops organization for the Vatican called the Sinistram. Brent did much the same with the US military and was connected to a group called C.H.A.R.O.N., which can be thought of as a highly corrupt Men-In-Black. Their motives are shady at best, and to date, there is not much known about them. We have met a couple of people attached to them. Still, C.H.A.R.O.N. itself remains somewhat enigmatic, including its role regarding the monstrous troubles the town of South Fork, Pennsylvania, is experiencing.

One of the great things about the books written by Martin (or those under her pen name Brice) is the easy accessibility to each. While C.H.A.R.O.N. is the second book of the “Night Vigil” series, there is no serious need to read the first book (Sons Of Darkness) to appreciate the story being told here fully. There are some points of trivia, but Martin has a wonderful way of filling in the gaps from past stories that neither disrupt the flow of the story narrative nor have to resort to info-dump. It had been quite some time since I read Sons Of Darkness (and had also read other books from her since), but I was able to fall right back with the exploits of Travis and Brent.

Martin has this special way of writing engaging characters while delivering thrilling pacing to her story. With the growing cast of characters she has created for this paranormal world, she has given each of them a unique voice that instantly identifies them to the reader. There is never any confusion with these different players. Their personalities are consistent within their own books and even remain so if they crossover into someone else’s story. As for the story, Martin is one of those incredible writers who researches the settings and plot points to perfection. Here, she provides the perfect amount of information that makes the story come alive in the reader’s mind. Each of her novels has done this, but reading C.H.A.R.O.N. almost felt as if this could have been a made-for-TV-movie-of-the-week. The suspense is nerve-wracking, and the elements of horror are indeed horrifying. As I read this, I could feel the impending sense of doom if our heroes didn’t solve the mystery in time, as well as sense the ticking clock as they were quickly beginning to run out of time—all these elements made for a nearly cinematic effect while reading this latest story. I could see it in my mind as easily as watching a movie on a big screen.

It has been four years since Sons Of Darkness, but jumping into C.H.A.R.O.N. felt like no time had passed between books. That is the strength of Martin’s writing. She continues to be one of those authors where I will drop everything just to read her latest thrilling story. Even after reading it once, the strength of the entire story makes it re-readable while continuing to get enjoyment out of it, despite already knowing the outcome. As with her other works, C.H.A.R.O.N. is a fun and exciting book to read!

I give C.H.A.R.O.N. 4.5 out of 5 Pieces of Coal.

C.H.A.R.O.N. is currently out and can be purchased on Amazon.


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