Title: A Time to Rise
Author: Tal Bauer
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: May 2, 2016
Page Count: 319
Reviewed by: Vallie
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
History says the Knights Templar were destroyed in 1307.
History is wrong.
Vampires haunt the sewers beneath Rome, revenants desecrate graveyards, ghouls devour helpless passersby, and incubi stalk dark alleys and seedy nightclubs in Italy’s capital. Deep in the Vatican, a brotherhood exists, sworn protectors of the earth, and they stand firm against monsters from the dark depths. Operating in secret and silence, they protect our world from the sinister, the etheric, and from the evils that exist beyond the Veil.
But it’s a lonely life, and Alain Autenberg knows that more than most. His lover was ripped from him years ago and he vowed never to get close to another soul again. Even when the loneliness presses down on him, and his empty heart cries out for something more.
Something more comes in Cristoph Hasse, a new soldier arriving in Rome to serve in the Pontifical Swiss Guard. Young, brash, and fitting in a right angles everywhere he goes, Cris struggles in the murky, deceptive labyrinth of the Vatican. Propelled forward by a past he can’t understand, Cris collides with Alain, and both men crash headfirst into the darkest secret of the Vatican… and of the world.
I loved Tal Bauer’s Enemies of the State , so naturally, I jumped at the chance to read another book by this author –even if paranormal isn’t a favourite subgenre of mine. I am glad I read it, because the story was rich and well-developed, but it didn’t quite satisfy as much as this author’s contemporary story did.
The story takes place in modern day Rome and specifically tackles the inner workings of the Vatican City. Alain is a special projects agent, fighting ghouls, revenants, vampires, and freaky river monsters. Along with father Lotario, they are the only thing protecting the city and two of the very select few who know about evil, supernatural beings causing murder and mayhem. Chris is a young soldier who is assigned to Alain as a mentee. Their relationship is very strained, with Chris carrying a moody, pissed-off at the world attitude and Alain trying to shy away from any form of role modelling.
I was impressed with the world building. The author did a fantastic job at visually placing the reader in this environment. Unfortunately, I think the story suffered a bit for it. There were too many descriptions for my taste. And as well-written as they were, as colourful, and on-point, they made the story drag for me and it got a bit boring. When I’m reading a high-adrenaline action sequence, I don’t appreciate the character taking a “page” off to describe the chandelier hanging from the ceiling and what exact colour the light bulb in the corner lamp was.
As for the romance…well this story doesn’t really focus on it. I think the universe the author created here is just too big to allow for proper relationship development. Perhaps in future books, when the foundation has already been set, there will be more room for that. But in this book, there were so many historical titbits to be shared, so many secrets to be unveiled, so many evil spirits to be fought, that Alain and Chris were left a bit behind. Also, I am really not sold on the HFN, mainly because things are not romanticised at all in this world of supernatural creatures, which left me wondering how exactly things are going to work out.
I was also a bit put off by the high intensity language that was used. The characters experienced feelings that were very OTT most of the time. And okay, the situation often called for it, when say, in the middle of them fighting for their lives. But especially in the beginning, the main and side characters (i.e., Luca) were often furious, snarling, grunting, and overall having these extreme emotional reactions over things that I don’t think warranted it. For instance, when Alain missed Chris’ first football game: ”Inside, he was screaming, fury and guilt warring with each other, tearing Alain to shreds. He should have been there. He should have been at the game.” Okaaaaaay.
Verdict: The paranormal aspect of the book was spot on. Super gory, creepy, straight out of an exorcist movie at times, with the whole shebang of magic circle healings, and salt and runes and what have you. The evil part was really well done, not cheesy at all, and very believable. The romance was not in the forefront, so know this going in otherwise you’ll be disappointed. But it’s a well-written story, overall, and it’s obvious that massive research and planning went into it. So, very worth reading as long readers know what the focus is on.