THE CHOSEN CHILD (1997 TOR) was recommended to me by horror and fantasy author David T. Wilbanks. He’s proven in the past to have a good take on the kind of stories I like, so I ordered a copy and promptly dug in. Here are my thoughts:
My one complaint has to do with the cover art. Without David’s recommendation I would not have given it a second glance if seen sitting on a shelf. The depiction of a child’s face, added to it being titled THE CHOSEN CHILD, would have led me to assume it was about a possessed young boy. To put it simply, I don’t find children frightening. However, as it turns out, this is just a case of the book having a misleading cover. Late in the story, it becomes apparent why it has its title, but it would probably have been better served with a different one.
Other than that, I really loved it. Set in Warsaw following the Cold War, it follows Sarah Leonard, an iron-willed American businesswoman sent there to oversee the construction of her company’s new Senate Hotel. Problems arise after a man known to be looking into the company’s business practices has his head cut off while inside the open sewer access of the hotel’s construction site. He isn’t the only one. There have been a string of recent decapitations perpetrated by an unknown murderer the media dubbs The Executioner. Tasked with investigating these crimes is hard-nosed police officer Komisarz Stephan Rej.
The investigation brings Sarah and Rej together to try and deal with an apparent superhuman adversary that possesses monstrous strength and which can travel through the city’s sewer systems at incredible speed. Adding to the difficulty of staying alive while tracking down The Executioner, they each also face pressure from their superiors at work as well as threats from a mafia kingpin. Along the way, they get help from a teenage Warsaw boy named Marek, an American detective named Clayton and psychic medium who brings advice from the spirt realm. Their ability to uncover secrets hidden since the Nazis invasion of Warsaw during WWII will be key to solving the mystery and putting a stop to what seems to be a series of motiveless murders.
THE CHOSEN CHILD mixes horror, crime, mystery and some romance together to produce an intriguing tale that keeps the momentum churning throughout. My thanks to David T. Wilbanks for bringing it to my attention.
Article by Matt Cowan