England, 1994. Villages in Sussex are vanishing into thin air at an alarming rate. Gino Marcotti – the Gran Maestro Occultist, son of the official occultist of the Fascist Italian Regime – is tasked to investigate by the Royal Paranormal Institute in Greenwich. His investigation takes an unexpected turn when he realises that the Black Metal scene, with its recent homicides and arson attacks on Norwegian churches, is connected to these disappearances. But he soon discovers that there are bigger and more malevolent forces at play – and the only way to defeat them is to connect with his dead father.
A Crack in the World is a fast-paced Occult Detective novel that plays with paranormal, cosmic horror and dark academia themes. A thrilling race across multidimensional portals for the fans of The X-Files, Twin Peaks and H. P. Lovecraft.
A Crack in the World is the debut novel of James Mordechai, a really fast-paced story that I found unputdownable, as it blends some of my favourite elements in the horror genre. You are directly thrown into the story, starting in media res, but soon get you to the past, in order to introduce you to what was happening.
We are introduced to our pair of protagonists, Gino and Carter, who are investigating the disappearance of some villages in Sussex, which seems to have a supernatural cause. It is important to notice how different Gino and Carter are, a dynamic that will work marvels during the story: while Gino is a master occultist, a really intelligent man used to deal with the strange and the supernatural, Carter is a simpler person, the muscle of this pair.
Together, they will investigate this phenomenon, and try to understand how this is related to the Royal Paranormal Institute; an investigation that will take them to enter into contact with the black metal subculture. Particularly, I found this specific section of the book really enjoyable, as you can feel how the author has studied the Norse Black Metal scene; and the pacing feels kinda similar to Ringu, by Koji Suzuki, a novel that is really beloved to me.
But even after this section that remembers more to a detective novel than a horror one per sé, we finally dive into the world that is hidden from our eyes. And this is where Mordechai shows his writing abilities, creating an atmospheric horror without falling into clichés, making use of strong prose that allows him to create a sort of cosmic creatures, similar to what we could find in H.P. Lovecraft.
If you are looking for an even better immersion, the author has also included a list of songs that can be played while reading this book, and honestly, I can say it creates an effect that makes the reading experience even better. As said, the work done by Mordechai studying and learning about occultism and black metal has a big payoff.
I've really enjoyed reading A Crack in the World, as it is an excellent example of how to write a horror novel that doesn't fall into clichés. If you are into cosmic horror, or you, like me, prefer a sort of investigative narrative, James Mordechai has you covered.