Every great story needs an origin story and what Clark has done here with Dead Woman Scorned (the follow-up book to his quite brilliant The Patience of a Dead Man) is something down right masterful.
Not only has Clark been able to develop and add to his existing story of Tim and Holly – he’s been able to expertly weave a tale that explores in depth, the origins of the ghost Mildred Wells that is mouthwateringly macabre and down right brilliantly brutal.
As this is a second book in the series, I’ll try to not spoil anything from the first outing in this review, so I may scoot around certain subjects or leave something a bit open-ended but I really don’t want to spoil anything for you if you’ve yet to discover this quite brilliant horror series. All roads are pointing to this being a five star series across the board.
The cast of characters that populate the original story (The Patience of a Dead Man) are all pretty much present in this second offering, it’s great to fill in some of the gaps from the time jump we had towards the end of the first book, and also to see what strange goings on happened in that slight time shift (the way that Clark pulls the reader back into this story is just astonishing).
We are also introduced to some new characters (one in particular Gideon) and some other odd creations from Clark’s pen which are called Revenants – these interesting characters and their interwoven narrative in Dead Woman Scorned take up a large proportion of the book and although I was pining to get back to the fully rounded and relatable characters of Tim and Holly, I couldn’t help but be bewitched by Clark’s use of these characters and the fabulous narrative and page time these revenants get in this second offering in the Dead Man Series.
What I really enjoyed about this offering was the chance to spend the majority of the book with Mildred Wells – one of the most scariest bloody characters I’ve ever read – Regan MacNeil from The Exorcist is a bloody kitten compared to this woman! We expertly see first hand the incidents that have lead Mildred to becoming the vengeful, horrific ghost that she is and why she is so scorned.
Clark paints a very sorrowful tale of her previous life, and we can’t help but to feel a twinge of regret for the hand she has been dealt – and the writing in this part is stunning, how Clark can make us feel anything (good) for this monster is remarkable in itself, but he does so with a flourish and with this strange turn of events it makes the horrors hit home harder than ever before.
There was one particular scene that had me salivating with its brilliance – Mildred returns to a farm where she once lived with a strange cult, where her childhood was robbed and where darkness seemed to reign freely. On her return as the Mildred we’ve come to fear in The Patience of a Dead Man – all bets are off with the carnage that is about to follow. This whole set piece was masterfully rendered, it had everything you wanted, gore, horror, creeping unease, tension, sympathy, hope, revenge – it was dripping with everything you could ever wish for and for me was put across in such attention to detail that you could visualize everything about it – this is a very cinematic book and a series actually and a film studio really needs to pick this book up and turn it into a film!
I’m going to leave the review there as I don’t want to elaborate too much more on the story in fear of giving something away and ruining the enjoyment of this masterful series to any new readers – but what I will say is revenge is a dish best served cold – and this offering is flipping chilling!
Dead Woman Scorned is a bloody marvelous piece of horror fiction, an origin story that expands this intrinsically macabre world that Clark has created, adding subtle layers to existing characters and also introducing us to new ones too. A deftly crafted and most beguiling ghost story, full of tension, horror and what makes monsters of men and women, and where all these winding narratives will lead to a brutal third act… and I for one can’t wait! Clark is quickly turning into one of those authors that I can’t get enough of, if you’ve not discovered Mildred Wells and the Dead Man Series or Michael Clark – now is the time!
Dead Woman Scorned is available here.
Michael Clark was raised in New Hampshire and lived in the house The Patience of a Dead Man is based on. The bats of the barn really circled the rafters all day and there actually was a man-made grove hidden in the forest. He now lives in Massachusetts with his wife Josi and his dog Bubba.
Reviewed by Ross Jeffery
Read our review of book one ‘The Patience of a Dead Man‘ here.
Unlike many other Arts & Entertainment Magazines, STORGY is not Arts Council funded or subsidised by external grants or contributions. The content we provide takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce, and relies on the talented authors we publish and the dedication of a devoted team of staff writers. If you enjoy reading our Magazine, help to secure our future and enable us to continue publishing the words of our writers. Please make a donation or subscribe to STORGY Magazine with a monthly fee of your choice. Your support, as always, continues to inspire.