The Beast of Nightfall Lodge by S A Sidor

February 15, 2019

Please note, though not a direct sequel to Fury From The Tomb chronologically The Beast of Nightfall Lodge does occur after the events in that book. Due to that it is possible that what follows may include some minor spoilers.

When Egyptologist Rom Hardy receives a strange letter from his old friend, the bounty-hunting sniper Rex McTroy, he finds himself drawn into a chilling mystery. In the mountains of New Mexico, a bloodthirsty creature is on the loose, leaving a trail of bodies in its wake. Now, a wealthy big game hunter has offered a staggering reward for its capture, and Rom’s patron – the headstrong and brilliant Evangeline Waterston – has signed the team up for the challenge. Awaiting them are blizzards, cold-blooded trappers, remorseless hunters, a mad doctor, wild animals and a monster so fearsome and terrifying, it must be a legend come to life.

The brave souls who make up The Institute for Singular Antiquities have returned with a new adventure. Dr Romulus Hugo Hardy, Rom to his friends, is the brains of the operation. Evangeline Waterston is the Institutes benefactor and occult expert while cowboy Rex McTroy is the action man. Finally, there is Wu the orphaned boy who McTroy took under his wing after the events in Fury From The Tomb. Once again, the plucky group of adventurers are called upon to unravel a potentially supernatural mystery. On a lonely mountain, a fearsome creature is stalking human prey. Is what haunts the woods merely a vicious grizzly bear, or something far more sinister and otherworldly?

Rom remains the very definition of an academic; studious and natural inquisitive. Myths, magic, monsters and history always hold his attention, to the point where he is often entirely oblivious of anything else. Fortunately, when thing go awry (which they often do), Rex McTroy is on hand to protect the good doctor. It would be easy to dismiss McTroy as the archetypal gunslinger, but there is more to him than that. His relationship with Rom has an almost brotherly feel. McTroy gently mocks the doctor regularly in that good-natured way that sibling often do. You get a real sense that the dynamic between the two men, experts in their respective fields, is evolving.

Wu and Evangeline Waterson also return, but sadly they don’t have quite as much to do. The Beast of Nightfall Lodge is very much Rom and, to a lesser degree, Rex’s story. I hope in future Wu and Evangeline get the opportunity to move forward to centre stage and we get to learn more about them both. Even after two books there is still an enigmatic air that surrounds Evangeline and her intentions for the Institute. I’d love to know more about what is going on.

Of the new characters that appear I have to admit Orcus was an immediate favourite.

I’ve been trying to think of what I can best compare The Beast of Nightfall Lodge to and I think the most appropriate response is The Thing by John Carpenter. Think about it, a small group of characters, trapped in an isolated locale, up against a malevolent creature driven to kill. There is also that similar wonderfully dark sense of paranoia and unease that escalates with each passing chapter. Who can be trusted? What is motivating the various people at the lodge. Are all of them exactly who they appear to be?

As with its predecessor, a nod of appreciation must be directed towards the artist Daniel Strange for the wonderfully pulpy cover design. I can well imagine readers are going to be drawn to the novel just by the cover art alone. I know if I spotted the book in a shop or for sale online, I would be curious enough to learn more.

I enjoy the episodic nature of the books in this series. Each are perfectly serviceable as standalone reads but also reference one another just enough to create a sense of continuity. Who knows where Rom Hardy and co will end up next? I look forward to finding out.

What of my musical recommendation then? Well, there is a western vibe to the novel, what with Rex McTroy and all, so Red Dead Redemption’s soundtrack by Bill Elm and Woody Jackson has got just the right sound that dovetails nicely with the story. It has long been my opinion that gunslingers and monsters need more jangly guitars.

The Beast of Nightfall Lodge, Book two of The Institute for Singular Antiquities, is published by Angry Robot Books and is available now.

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