Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Book Review: Ni'il- The Awakening by James Boyle


When several people are brutally killed in the town of Placerton, on the isolated Oregon coast, most locals think a rogue bear or cougar is roaming the forested hills near town. Police Chief Dan Connor is not so sure. He has witnessed some very strange things lately, such as disembodied voices, muttering a strange foreign language and an old Indian man who seems to be near every crime scene, but disappears before he can be questioned.Dan's investigation takes him to the local Sihketunnai Indians and their legend of the Ni'il, magical shamans charged with maintaining the balance between humans and the natural world. According to the elders, one of the Ni'il is responsible for the murders and intends to kill everyone in the community. It is Dan's job to stop it.It sounded unbelievable, but was the only explanation that fit the facts.As a violent Pacific storm crashes ashore, cutting off power and washing out roads-cutting the town off from the outside world--Dan finds himself entering a strange world of myth and magic that was not covered in his police training. He must use all his wits and new-found powers to save himself and his community from the Ni'il.


Uniquely presented and a great blend of reality with supernatural, Ni'il is a new take on the murder mystery. Though the actual culprits are told in the book summary, the way it plays out, their actual motives, and the way others are involved are unraveled in a very interesting way. Incorporating Indian legends with his own take, Boyle presents both a thought provoking and entertaining tale.

Though Ni'il is written in third person, the central focus is on Dan, the Police Chief. A widower but still a great man, Dan is a very enjoyable character. He has a strong set of personal values and respect and though he still misses his wife, he continues to protect the small town he lives in. Adding to the overall appeal of his character is the way his mind works, particularly at a crime scene. He can go past the evidence and see things others don't and Boyle presents Dan in a way that makes it engaging and interesting to watch the entire story play out. Despite his age, his character still shows great strides in development and the reader can see the shift in the way he thinks and sees the world.

Stephanie works in Dan's office as a receptionist and though she is ten years younger, she does draw his attention. The clear spark between them is present early on, despite the age and employment status. This romantic element does add something to the book and breaks up the tension and growing danger. The two have many cute exchanges, both reverting to awkwardness and shyness. It is a very great element to add because despite their ages and experiences, it's two people just figuring out the feelings are mutual but still unsure how to proceed. Adding to the strength of her character is the story of her past, revealed in bits and helping to build her in the reader's eyes. The way Dan reacts to everything also is a testament to his character and Boyle does a remarkable job developing and portraying both.

Several of the crime scenes are graphic and grotesque though Boyle doesn't hark in excess on them. His descriptions are to the point and get the full setting across without it being a turn off. His writing style is a mix of descriptive and aloof in that some parts waste no time in getting through the scene and letting the reader know what's happened while others go more in depth and paint a greater picture. There are several scenes that are beautifully written despite the wrenching or graphic nature, intermixing beauty and small detail with the overall air.

The plot itself is a really inventive one and the effort Boyle put into the entire thing comes through quite clearly. He has mixed several elements and used an array of characters to play everything out. There are numerous twists and puzzles throughout the book, some of which could be predicted but the majority come from left field and reignite interest. Boyle also incorporates many dream sequences in the book and though that could be considered cliche, it plays into the Indian legend aspect of the book and the analysis on the characters' parts of the dreams adds another level.

Ni'il has several arcs and elements to it, all of which are tied together with an overall air of smoothness. The writing holds it up and the characters are in depth and highly relateable. With a fantastic idea and strong execution, Ni'il is a certainly a book to pick up for the romance, murder mystery, and great characters.

Source: Copy received from author for review as part of a Pump Up Your Book promotional tour Paperback: 216 pages
Publisher: IUniverse (December 2, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1440108676
ISBN-13: 978-1440108679

1 comment:

  1. This book sound SO GOOD. (especially the romantic part ;D)
    Normally I don't pick up mystery/crime books but your review convinced me to give it a try sometime. Thanks for the awesome review :D