cover image Waking Brigid

Waking Brigid

Francis Clark, . . Tor, $25.95 (366pp) ISBN 978-0-7653-1810-7

An intriguing premise—a group of magicians working secretly within the Catholic Church to combat evil occult forces—gets tepid treatment in Clark’s sluggish dark fantasy debut. In 1874, a blueblood’s spectacularly gruesome death shocks Savannah, Ga. The local clergy soon recognize it as the handiwork of Satanists who have for the past century been ritually sacrificing women around the town to the demon Belial. The stage is set for a showdown between the demon worshippers and a clandestine order of priests and nuns who still respect the beliefs of their pagan forebears and strive to suppress eruptions of ancient evil into the world. While Clark focuses on the experiences of Brigid Rourke, a nun initiated into the magic circle, the book is dominated by the backstories of the clergy and talky discussions of comparative magic that grow increasingly repetitive. In the end, the Satanist cult and its champion demon are too easily vanquished for this tale to thrill with any sense of supernatural horror. (Feb.)