First published in August of 2018, British author Richard Ayre’s novel ‘Minstrel’s Requiem’ formed the third and final instalment into his ‘The Prophecy Trilogy’ series.

DLS Synopsis:
For the last twenty years Phil Sturgess had been getting on with life.  Indulging in the joys of having a family and the pleasure of simply living.  But all that fell apart in seconds when an email arrived from out of nowhere.  There were few words in it.  But the message was clear.  “The Bargain has been broken, Traveller.  He is back.”  And with that simple note, that short and unexpected reminder of the past he’d somehow forgotten, his whole world came crashing down around him once again.

Somehow, over the twenty odd years that had passed, he’d managed to forget the hell he’d not only been through, but had quite literally ventured into the heart of.  Now it seemed the demon that had burdened his life so much was back.  Would he never be rid of that creature?  Was he destined forever to collide, fight, forget and repeat?  He could barely make himself believe what he’d done in the past, all those previously forgotten memories the email had dredged up.

But the threat was clear in his mind now.  It was back.  His life-long enemy was walking the planet again.  Oh yes, Sturgess knew him well.  His nemesis had a name.  And it was Minstrel.

The thought terrified Sturgess.  He was now sixty, not thirty.  How could he be asked to step into that world of horror, bloodshed and violence once again?  Why the hell should he?  He had won twice.  Enough was enough.  Surely there was someone else who could step up and take on the cursed mantle of Traveller.  Someone who could do what Sturgess felt he was now too old to continue with.  He didn’t want this.  It wasn’t fair.

Sturgess now knew which human vessel Minstrel had taken over.  In truth, he had known even before the email had arrived and thrown him back into hell.  The much-loved figure of Josh Ember was the ideal vehicle for Minstrel’s evil crusade.  The scenario was playing out in exactly the same way it had for eons.  He had appeared from nowhere just as Bizarre and Doyle had, and Sturgess feared what that might mean.  For mankind as well as himself.

But Minstrel knew he was not yet strong enough.  He needed the power of the souls that walked and talked and slept around him.  With that thought lingering in his cold, dark mind, Minstrel picked up his black, rune-covered flute, and with a greed that was unquenchable, began to play his music once more…

DLS Review:
So here we have it.  The final instalment in what has undoubtedly become Richard Ayre’s signature trilogy.  The final book in the hard rock pulp horror series that you can help but feel should propel the author into at least the outer reaches of the horror limelight.

The first book offered up a solid slab of early-James Herbert esque British horror.  Rampaging riots and uncompromising ferocity ensued across more than a few handfuls of high-octane pages.  Following in its blood-soaked footsteps, book two upped the ante somewhat with more over-the-top pulpish gore and hellish happenings a-frigging-go-go.  We saw the ‘Prophecy Trilogy’ world fleshed out and flinging a bestial suckerpunch squarely in the readers’ faces.

Book three – the final volume – returns with the very same mission scribbled out on the underlying blueprint.  It’s tried and tested formula picks up the mantel once again, flinging us out of the 80’s and 90’s and smack into the current day.

Our now much-loved principal protagonist, Phil Sturgess, is now a sixty-year-old family man who’s left all the troubles of the past behind him.  Or so he thought.  As is the way with the Minstrel’s Bargain stories, the past is soon forgotten and out hero is left to get back on with his life, seemingly oblivious to his prophesised commitment to the role of being the Traveller.  But of course it was never going to end there.  Good ole Minstrel’s back with gusto, for one last stab at dragging humanity into the unending darkness of his own making.

Again we see unashamedly predominant echoes of Herbert’s particular style of storytelling pulsing through the pages of the book.  Sturgess is far from your textbook hero.  He’s tired.  He feels he’s no longer equal for such a battle against the powers of evil again.  He doesn’t want it.  But, as the story stampedes onwards, he’s dragged into the thick of the mayhem once again.

Ayre keeps his eye firmly on the pacing as he rips through the unfolding story with a maniacal glee for creating chaos and adrenaline-junkie sequences of violent action.  The urgency of the tale keeps hammering away at the door like a lunatic wanting access to your homely sanctuary.  We’ve seen this before in the previous two instalments, but here Ayre’s taken a slightly different path, pushing Sturgess down a more isolated and lonely route.

The help and support from the tramp has diminished somewhat.  At times it seems Sturgess is fighting a losing battle on his own.  He struggles to connect the pieces together to know what course of action he should be taking.  The tramp’s guidance which he’d previously relied so heavily upon has whittled away to almost nothing.  But the prophecy, the unrelenting draw of what he should do next, somehow always manages to sway him in the right direction at the last moment.

As you’d expect, there’s plenty of murder and mayhem portrayed throughout the tale.  There’s also some nightmarish sequences where you’re never too sure what’s real or not.  And of course, people are used like puppets by Minstrel and the dark beast of Hell, at every opportunity.  Nevertheless, Ayre keeps a good handful of cards close to his chest as the tale hurtles onwards, not letting the reader know wholly who can be trusted in this critical game where the stakes are the highest they could ever be.

One thing’s for sure, when this novel puts its foot down squarely on the accelerator, nothing will stop it on its course for destruction.  This is when the tale comes into its own.  The culmination of mounting action and suspense floods through the pages.  The possibility of utter Armageddon for mankind is always just a wisp away.  It keeps you gripped to the tale.  Unwilling to put it down, knowing that the horror won’t let up.  Not for one second.

The tale, and the trilogy as a whole, comes to an end in a heart-wrenchingly touching way.  You’ll love the books that much more when the last page is turned.  Ayre’s done the trilogy proud.  And that’s what we wanted.  What we hoped for.  What needed to happen.  It was the prophecy.

The novel runs for a total of 285 pages.

 © DLS Reviews

Other ‘Prophecy Trilogy’ instalments:



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