A compulsive page turner and supernatural survival thriller

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Pub Date 19 Mar 2024 | Archive Date 19 Mar 2024

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'Totally, brilliantly original.' Stephen King on HEX

'Creepy and gripping and original' - George R.R. Martin on HEX

The latest spine-chilling horror thriller from the Hugo award-winning author, Thomas Olde Heuvelt. Perfect for fans of Neil Gaiman, Adam Nevill and Stephen King.

On a foggy winter morning two children discover the impossible: the wreck of an eighteenth-century ship stranded in a field.

One enters the hatch on the deck and is never seen again. And she isn't the last to disappear . . .

Soon a government agency begins to investigate, determined to uncover the ship's secrets before a media storm erupts. They enlist Robert Grim, a retired specialist of the occult, to unravel the mystery, who soon realises the ship could be a harbinger of an ancient doom awakened under the sea.

In a maelstrom of international intrigue and pure terror, Grim must race against time as he comes face to face with an open doorway to the apocalypse.

Praise for Thomas Olde Heuvelt

'A compulsive page turner mixing supernatural survival horror and pulp adventure' Paul Tremblay

'Hallucinatory, eerie and terrifying' Catriona Ward

'A haunting contribution to the literature of folk horror' Ramsey Campbell

'Reminiscent of vintage Stephen King' John Connolly

'A great writer, the next genre superstar' Paul Cornell

'Takes the horror/thriller genre to a whole new level' Sarah Lotz

'Horrific, poignant, creepy, brilliantly written' Jeff VanderMeer

'Totally, brilliantly original.' Stephen King on HEX

'Creepy and gripping and original' - George R.R. Martin on HEX

The latest spine-chilling horror thriller from the Hugo award-winning author, Thomas...

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ISBN 9781529331929
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Featured Reviews

Whilst not a direct sequel to Hex it certainly continues the tale of characters in that dark world, interesting, intriguing and worth investing your money and time in, possibly a third book in this universe?

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I’m really impressed with Thomas Olde Heuvelt - he reads like a younger, European Stephen King (the cultural references are typically more European than American), with a distinct vibe all of his own. This is the third I’ve read and they’ve all been deep immersive books with a slow build and ratcheting of tension as events spiral out of control.

Particularly near here is the callback to Hex - I hadn’t anticipated a link, but it’s well-managed. I don’t think it would be a problem to come to this fresh, but having the back story of what happened in America years previously is recommended for completists (like me). Sheer coincidence I’d read Hex a few weeks back.

Great characters, sense of place, inexplicable and horrible events, evil soldiers / agents. What more could you want?

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Oracle wonderfully blends together incomprehensible horror and shady government agencies to create a wild nightmare-fuelled ride of a novel. It expands on the world created in Heuvelt’s previous novel Hex, and while Oracle is a standalone novel with a separate plotline, I recommend reading Hex first (and before this review) to avoid minor spoilers.

Set a decade after the events of Hex, Robert Grim is called over to the Netherlands to investigate a sailing vessel called the Oracle that’s impossibly appeared in the middle of a tulip field. Anyone who sets foot upon the boat and hears the ship’s bell toll is never seen again. I really love how Grim is now declared the ‘expert’ in the supernatural occurrences of this world, since the comparisons with the events of Hex are few and far between – this is a new scenario with new rules. It makes Grim a clever POV character to use for the book; an expert with little more knowledge then the reader! Another key feature I loved about Oracle is the evolution of Robert Grim’s character, and the way trauma from the previous encounter has affected his mind and manner, being unable to talk to anyone about what occurred in his past.

I would definitely bill Oracle as a Horror/Thriller combo, but weighted more towards the horror aspect. It seems Heuvelt has leant more heavily on the ‘Lovecraftian’ dial then in Hex, and the graphic nature reminded me in places of Jeff Vandermeer’s Annihilation. The style of horror here is definitely madness inducing, featuring entities that are just incomprehensible to the human mind. This horror is paired well with a solid conspiracy theory plot, as government organisations attempt to avoid panic by containing the story of the Oracle ship, and diverting away the attention of the public. Other solid thriller features are present here too; there are shady detective characters you just love to hate, and a lingering feeling that you can’t quite trust the motivations of any of these characters. I found the pacing of the novel to fluctuate in all honesty, but it’s fair to say that the building tension only went one way, and the climax of the book was pretty spectacular!

I’d strongly recommend picking up Oracle if you enjoyed Hex, or if this style of horror is up your street. I really like how this novel expanded on the world by jumping to a different location, and I’m looking forward to seeing if more stories in the same world will be forthcoming. Potential trigger warnings to flag include: Drowning, Harm to Children, and minor cruelty to animals including rabbits and (to a less explicit degree) dogs.

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Ask that one twice! I'm sorry!!

That being said, it was such a great book! Unique, atmospheric, and thrilling. An author worth reading!!

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