“Ex Libris The Eyes of Madness, simple reviews from a simple reader…”
Zakk reviews Martuk… the Holy by Jonathan Winn, 446 pages published by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform November 14, 2012.
Purchased Kindle eBook.
Entertainment Value (Because the kids like numbers)
“Yes, they had found me.
They spread like shadows, these voices. Sliding around tables. Slipping over chairs. Wrapping themselves in the Living. Their laughter, their tears, their disappointment and dread, all precious succor for these restless ghosts.
Flesh and bone … these tender bones, breathed another.”
In a crowded Left Bank cafe, an immortal man sits, the phantoms crawling near, the heat of their whispers stinging his cheek …
and Martuk … The Holy begins.
One thousand years before the birth of Christ, a golden god damns Martuk with a kiss. In a land ruled by a wounded king, life everlasting steals his mortality from the bottom of a golden cup. Finally, generations later, a Messiah who has the power to heal breaks under the weight of Martuk’s demons, stumbling to his death defeated by darkness.
From his home in modern Paris, he writes, his memories lush, his words evocative. Revisiting his impossible life, he vents his rage and shares his loneliness. From bloody battles with a demon he cannot escape to the ghost of a beauty who haunts him still, this is his story.
This is Martuk … The Holy.
“You know this altar.
I’ve already felt the dank earth beneath my feet. Have already heard the whimpers, cries and whispers. And the blood. You remember how my stomach heaved under that metallic scent, yes?
Do you remember?”
Damn, damn, damn. How great is it to be back in this world, back amongst these characters? Pretty great. It’s also pretty exciting to finally have read the beginnings of Martuk, a series I have been reading Tarantino style since 2013. Late that year I picked up a copy of Martuk… Proseuche (book 2) as a review request. This was my introduction to the charming chameleon Martuk, the immortal. It was also my introduction to the gorgeous flowing prose of Jonathan Winn. I fell for both. Shortly after I picked up and devoured the three (at that time) Winn novellas, The Wounded King, The Elder, and Red & Gold, enjoying them even more as they upped the ante on brutality while cinching in the already oppressive darkness. If that can be believed. These stories are all part of the rich Martuk universe, that I knew going in. What I didn’t know was how. Last year a fourth novella in the mythos dropped, The Tall Priest, and another layer was added to the beauty and the punishment, that layer being heartbreak.
After reading The Tall Priest I knew I needed to go back to the beginning, to read the opening piece of the puzzle that I had purchased two years ago and let sit in the TBR pile hell. So I did, I read Martuk… the Holy, and do you know what? Loved it. Though I do wish that I had taken the time to read this before tackling Proseuche as I am not really one to read a series out order. It feels unnatural, but I got along just fine.
The tale of Martuk is told in fluid, entrapping prose almost like being carried around by a spring breeze, synonymous with the work of Jonathan Winn, one of my personal favorites on the scene right now. The narrative takes it’s time getting to where it is taking you but Mr. Winn has so much to show you, taking you the reader through two distinctive narrative acts. Act one, the events leading up to Martuk’s unavoidable destiny (my favorite of the two), and act two, trying to find a man to break a curse. Interweaved throughout a potentially blasphemous take on one of the worlds most well known, and most historically divided story.
Seeing characters that are fleshed out in the novella series appear in Martuk, experiencing were their threads begin was a joy. Like running into old friends, except that these are particularly heinous, backstabbing, front-stabbing, power-mongering friends. The epitome of characters you love to hate. Nasty, fascinating people. And as enjoyable as Martuk… the Holy is, it is not enough. I desire a return to this world. I ache to dance amonst these characters again… those who survive anyway. Until new chapters arrive, and while the Holy is still fresh in my mind, now might be a good time to reacquaint myself with Proseuche and definitely the right time to reread the Martuk novellas. These in particlar tickle my fancy and speak to my dark passenger.
“I should have told her about the Priests. Their shaved heads wet in the torchlight, gold amulets swinging in my face as they lay me down. The fire in their eyes. Their sinister smiles peering at me from the dark.
I should have told her.”
I love this world, I love this writer. It is dark, it is brutal. I believe that your full enjoyment of this book, and the Martuk books as a whole hinges upon how open you can be concerning perceived religion and faith. By being secular, not locked down to any particular belief, I found it all too easy to be whisked away by the sands of this world. Martuk is a must-read.
Zakk is a big dumb animal!
**Note: I am choosing to review this book voluntarily. These are my honest, unbiased feelings. I did not receive any sort of compensation.
Biography for Jonathan Winn
Jonathan Winn is a screenwriter as well as the author of Eidolon Avenue: The First Feast (“a great read…powerful and jarring” – Cemetery Dance, 2016), the full-length novels Martuk…the Holy (A Highlight of the Year – 2012 Papyrus Independent Fiction Awards), Martuk…the Holy: Proseuche (Top Twenty Horror Novels of 2014 – Preditors & Editors Readers Poll), the upcoming Eidolon Avenue: The Second Feast and Martuk…the Holy: Shayateen as well as The Martuk Series, an ongoing collection of short fiction inspired by Martuk…
His work can also be found in Horror 201: The Silver Scream, Writers on Writing, Vol. 2 and in Tales from the Lake, Vol. 2 with his award-winning short story “Forever Dark,” all from Crystal Lake Publishing.
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