Review of The Harrowing by Robert E. Dunn

January 26, 2017


As the protagonist of The Harrowing - an ex-military biker covered in mystical tattoos and piercings - stuck his magical knife up a demon’s backside, I knew this was not a book to be taken seriously.

The Harrowing is the tale of a man stuck between alive and dead, sent by Heaven’s special ops team to rescue a person from Hell - a woman that our protagonist has a long and complicated history with - to avert a battle between Heaven and Hell. There are some interesting comparisons throughout the book between the wars in the celestial planes and the wars that the protagonist, Jack, has been through...but for the most part, this book is, dare I say it, a little silly.

Jack’s inner monologue is peppered with pop culture references and smart-ass quips. I have to admit that, as a Brit, some of the very Americanised references went sailing over my head, but a few of the quips did make me laugh.

The story of the past between Jack and Orisa, the woman he is sent to rescue, is probably my favourite part of the novel. Jack admits candidly that Orisa has become more symbol than person in his mind, and that he does obsess over her. This was fascinating to me, as it’s rare that a character admits this, especially in a testosterone-ridden action story such as this one.

Technically speaking, this book isn’t perfect; Dunn has a bad habit of telling us what is going on, rather than showing it. Because of this, there are sections of the book that are wholly dedicated to world-building, which can get tedious. Character-wise, no one feels really fleshed about apart from Jack, and that is because we are spending so much time in his head. But this is a weird, fun book, full of machismo cheese, that could be worth picking up if you like your supernatural fiction a little bit silly.

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Powell River, British Columbia, Canada
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