Zakk reviews The Final Reconciliation by Todd Keisling

“Ex Libris The Eyes of Madness, simple reviews from a simple reader…”

Zakk reviews The Final Reconciliation by Todd Keisling, _ pages published by Crystal Lake Publishing, 2017.

“Now old Reggie, he’d been around the block more than once in this business. You name a band dynamic, and chances are he’d seen it. Hell, just look at your history of rock. Look at the Beatles or Nirvana, Yoko Ono or Courtney Love. You introduce a variable into an otherwise balanced equation and it tipped the scales. Reggie only needed one look at Camilla and he’d already made up his mind, her charms be damned.”


Thirty years ago, a progressive rock band called The Yellow Kings began recording what would become their first and final album. Titled “The Final Reconciliation,” the album was expected to usher in a new renaissance of heavy metal, but it was shelved following a tragic concert that left all but one dead.

The sole survivor of that horrific incident was the band’s lead guitarist, Aidan Cross, who’s kept silent about the circumstances leading up to that ill-fated performance—until now.

For the first time since the tragedy, Aidan has granted an exclusive interview to finally put rumors to rest and address a question that has haunted the music industry for decades: What happened to The Yellow Kings?

The answer will terrify you.

“All the rumors about the dark ritual shit that went on in the recording studio were true, Camilla had offered us free reign over her extensive book collection, an invitation which Johnny took full advantage of. I bet he carted at least thirty tomes down to the studio. They weren’t top choices from the bestseller lists, either. These books were fucking ancient, dusty old things bound in cracked leather, and paper so thin it might crumble to dust if you breathed on it the wrong way.”

First impressions (judging the book by it’s cover) 

I’ve been a fan of Keisling for a little while now, getting my first taste of his Ugly Little Things right after joining The Mouths of Madness podcastshow (R.I.P.). I wasn’t even a small-time reviewer then, I was a “Who the F is that loser?” reviewer. And still, Todd popped on to the interwebs to thank me for reading his work, it was a cool moment.

Over the years I’ve read most of Todd’s output and I consider myself a fan. I read his books for pleasure, excited for anything I can get my hands on… especially anything Ugly Little Thing related.

Which brings me to The Final Reconciliation. Will it be an Ugly Little Thing? Rumors say it just may be, who knows in the long run? But it’s Todd Keisling, it’s also the King in Yellow related horror fiction, and it has a prog metal spin… that’s three solid points in the plus column. It’s almost like he’s whispering directly into my ear. Yeah, it’s nice.

Without further adu, the croud is amped, there’s an electric tension in the air. The curtain parts and here… we… go…

“Other interviewers have come to me over the years to ask what it was like recording the album, if there was ever any hint that something was ‘off’ during the process. All of them assumed what happened was part of Johnny’s ‘master plan’, that he actually orchestrated everything that occurred that night at our final show as fulfillment of some occult ritual. Which, in all fairness, is a legitimate assumption. How else could you rationalize such a tragedy? The media’s always looking for a devil to take the blame.”

Final thoughts (judging the book by it’s content)

So, how are you all doing tonight, (enter name and it city)?! It is a pleasure to entertain you! You are definitely the best crowd I have reviewed for and this one is for a book called… ahem, cough cough, anywho…

It’s awfully early in the year to be floored by a book, yeah, I dug it that much. The Final Reconciliation is easily a one sitting read, not just because of it’s duration (yes, it’s a quick read) but more because of it’s commanding performance. This is what top shelf fiction can provide, the ability to lose oneself in the words. This is the pied piper’s song leading you away from your safe place into madness.

Todd has crafted, nay, conjured a tale so rich and so fluid that I couldn’t help but to be at its mercy. 100 plus pages of fighting my way to the front row, 100 plus pages of putting my lighter in the air. 100 plus pages of me chanting the band’s name until I’m horse.

I was hanging on every word from Aiden Cross as he is interviewed VH1 Behind the Music style. An awesome character coming clean decades later with a fascinating tale of a metal band’s path to infamy.

There’s an overwhelming visual quality to the read, it could absolutely be a cinematic masterpiece and it played as such in my head, all due to the dimension and tangibility Mr. Keisling has granted these characters. The band feels real, the dynamic feels honest. The interloper feels electric. The lore feels thick, deep. The bands mentioned in the book are some of my favorites and the lyrics to The Yellow Kings songs are great. The read easily hits the high notes while strumming the heaviest bass lines.

The Final Reconciliation feels like a hit.

I need to hear this album! I need to buy some band merch! I need to see The Yellow Kings perform, even if it is the only time*… long live The Yellow Kings.

Take off your mask…

**Note: this isn’t a spoiler.


I fully expect to see The Final Reconciliation on MANY year end best-of lists. You’ll want to be the person saying “Hell yeah it is!” Not the person saying “Damn, I meant to read this!” Stand in line if you have to, get your ticket early. Do whatever you have to do to get backstage entry. This story is metal.

Thank you dark continent, goodnight.

Zakk is a big dumb animal!

**Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and/ or publisher and I am reviewing it voluntarily. These are my honest, unbiased feelings. I did not receive any sort of compensation.


TODD KEISLING is the author of A Life Transparent, The Liminal Man (a 2013 Indie Book Award Finalist), and the forthcoming collection, Ugly Little Things. He lives somewhere in the wilds of Pennsylvania with his wife, son, and trio of unruly cats. Visit his website,, and connect with him on social media:



And while you’re here, check out The Ex Libris The Eyes of Madness, stop by and say hi




3 Comments Add yours

  1. adishotbolt says:

    Great review man. I loved this book!!!! \m/


    1. Zakk at TEOM says:

      Thanks dude. I dug it so much, and had to bail on my next read because it felt like a turd in comparison.


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