First published back in July of 2007, C. W. Schultz’s (aka Calen Sifferman) debut novel ‘Yeval’ saw a reasonably small print run, with sales predominantly in his home country of the US.  However, a quiet and purely internet-based notoriety slowly began to unfold notably surrounding the strong nature that the tale adopts.  Indeed, across the landscape of the world-wide-web, the name ‘Yeval’ crops up in a number of discussions surrounding disturbing fiction and the like.  Intrigue was thus suitably whetted...

DLS Synopsis:
Randy Mulray is an intelligent but dysfunctional individual.  He suffers from severe depression and bouts of colourfully psychotic behaviour.  A low-level drug dealer, Mulray lives a casual yet unrewarding existence with his default girlfriend Morgan.  But Mulray has a secret named Yeval.  An imaginary red demon-like monster, Yeval appears numerous times a week, taunting Mulray with jeers at his lifestyle, filling him with doubt and ultimately encouraging constant retaliation and sadistic behaviour.  Yeval also brings with him the ability to see through the eyes of the serial killer who has dubbed himself the ‘Slayer’. 

With the Seattle police force desperately trying to track down the recent return of the Slayer after being quiet for a thirty-year-long stretch, any hints towards capturing the killer are pounced upon with increasing vigour.  When Mulray is spotted lurking outside one of the fresh crime scenes, he’s unsurprisingly brought in for questioning.  Mulray’s detailed inside knowledge of the killer’s savage attacks throw him under the lime-light for a prime suspect as a possible copy-cat killer.  His age alone means there is no possibility that he could be responsible for the Slayer’s early killings.

Now with his newly-acquired ability at seeing through the eyes of the Slayer haunting his every waking hour, with a father who has practically given up on his no-good son, and the overwhelming guilt of his brother’s retardation and his mother’s death; Randy’s life becomes an utter abyss of chaos and depression.  And behind every jagged rock in his life is the bright red tormenting form of Yeval.  But utilising the abilities at hand from this inner-demon, Mulray has the chance to make something of himself at long last and bring down the killer that is haunting the streets of Seattle.  Now is his chance to finally make it all right...

DLS Review:
Written in the first-person-perspective of Randy Mulray, Schultz’s psychological-thriller of wild inner-turmoil throws around a litany of sub-plots, side-stories and somewhat complex emotional responses to our lead character’s chaotic lifestyle.  Guilt is a prevailing aspect to the thrust of the character’s psychological profile.  And from this principal and overwhelming feeling of guilt comes a veritable tsunami of disruptive and overbearingly negative emotions.  Mulray is a very troubled young man indeed.

The story as a whole plays out like a diluted ‘The Wasp Factory’ (1984) mixed with aspects of ‘The Catcher In The Rye’ (1951) which forms a character driven storyline, similar to that of the much more recent novel ‘Slights’ (2009).  A multitude of other influences and inspirations seem to have been thrown into the mix, with nods towards ‘American Psycho’ (1991), ‘The Kult’ (2009) and perhaps even plot-twisting ideas from the novel ‘Cabal’ (1988).  Brought together, the novel certainly has some very interesting and imaginative avenues for literary exploration.

However, disappointingly Schultz’s novel flounders about in a tragically clumsy fashion, with very weak attention to any real detail in dialogue, atmosphere, surroundings or the believability of the premise.  The characterisation is certainly a saving grace, with the character rich direction of the novel bringing out an endearing quality to many of the individuals who play out their own equally important and unique roles.

The violence and torture is strong in many places of the novel, but lacks in the stomach-churning stab that can be obtained in the delivery if executed in such an impactful manner.  All too often, Schultz delivers a graphically violent idea, but fails to follow through with the intricate details of the violence that would ultimately lead to the readers' shock and repulsion.

The novel carefully builds on the intrigue and mystery of Yeval and Mulray’s unique abilities of seeing behind the Slayer’s eyes, until the grand finale of the showdown between the killer, the police and Mulray is played out.  Here every puzzling aspect of the storyline is (unfortunately somewhat weakly) explained away.  The twists are all rather predictable (to a certain point), with no real flare for a sudden ‘plot-redefining’ surprise.

The final few chapters are sadly way too clichéd and nauseatingly sentimental.  The sheer volume of typos and grammatical errors that litter the entirety of the tale are also equally as annoying.  For its weaknesses, it must be said that ‘Yeval’ is still a very enjoyable and entertaining read.  The mid-two-thirds of the tale are fast-paced, intricately woven and thoroughly gripping.  The characters are well developed and their individual roles impactful.  With a re-working of the ending, some much needed proofreading, a little development and expansion on body of the tale, and more impact injected into the violence, the novel could really become a powerful piece of dark fiction.  Alas, in its current state it falls short of the bar quite considerably.

The novel runs for a total of 175 pages.

© DLS Reviews

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