#BookReview The Eidola Project by Robert Herold
Today I have the pleasure of reviewing The Eidola Project by Robert Herold. I received a copy of the novel from the author in exchange for a review after responding to a request for reviews posted on a Facebook group I monitor. As it turns out, we share the same publisher and, I suspect, the same editor, but I’m not sure about latter bit. Also, I believe he is a Pacific Northwest author like myself––go figure.
A rip-roaring paranormal adventure with a touch of the weird.
When I started this novel, I wasn't sure what to expect. For the most part, I don't read horror except for the occasional Stephen King or Stephen Graham Jones. Those books are the exceptions to my usual fare of fantasy and sci-fi adventures. I found The Eidola Project intriguing from the start.
Information I found on the author's website makes me believe this novel was originally written as a screenplay. Now, my assumption might be apocryphal, but the novel did feel a bit like a movie to me, specifically a heist movie. You know the beginning of the film when the mastermind gathers all the super criminals they need to pull off the heist ? A good portion of The Eidola Project has a similar feel to this. You see, The Eidola Project is a rag-tag team of paranormal investigators. At the beginning of the novel, most of them live separate lives. There is a girl performing in a carnival act as a medium, a Black physicist struggling to find a job in academia due to racism, and a civil war veteran who loves nothing more than exposing fraudsters claiming to touch the supernatural. Herold provides vignettes regarding each of these characters' lives in between scenes where Professor James, the leader of The Eidola Project, recruits them to join his investigative team. Typically, I don't enjoy this portion of heist movies, but in The Eidola Project, the technique is quite effective. All characters are fascinating, and I honestly enjoyed learning their backstories.
The project goes on to investigate all kinds of paranormal shenanigans. I didn't find the supernatural happenings––except for the climax––particularly horrifying, but they were all weird in a good way. Time and again, I was surprised by the bizarro stuff Herold comes up with. I had to re-read sentences, re-read paragraphs to convince myself what I just read really happened. I mean this as a compliment because no matter how outlandish the event, it worked perfectly in the story. I never once thought: I'm not buying what you're selling.
I really appreciate how immersive Robert Herold's world is, even though he uses a dearth of words describing it. The story takes place in the late 1800s. The story's milieu is believable for that time. I think this is achieved through a combination of careful word choice and how the characters are treated. For example, Edgar, the Black physicist, faces racism out in public and at the hands of one project member.
I highly recommend The Eidola Project to fans of paranormal adventures and anyone looking for a good yarn.