Our giveaway for the Favorite Reads Giveaway Hop is The Watchers by Jon Steele. It’s Book #1 in The Angelus Trilogy. The Watchers bends genres into pretzels readers are going to love! It combines historical fiction with contemporary fiction. It’s a fast-moving thriller containing religious mysticism and paranormal fantasy. If The Watchers is any indication, this is going to be a very exciting trilogy! And one lucky reader will win a hardback copy for their very own, thanks to the publisher’s generosity!
Marc Rochat is a gentle, kind, sweet man who’s a watcher high above Lausanne, Switzerland, in the bell tower of its gothic cathedral. Marc has always been different but those differences make him an ideal watcher. He takes his job very seriously and loves the bells in the tower. It’s his duty to watch over the cathedral, to keep it safe from the bad shadows, a very real evil that’s unseen by ordinary citizens. He is part of a dying breed of watchers who have protected cathedrals since they were built centuries ago.
“’Right on time, Rochat. Must be punctual in all things.’…
He pulled hard on the handrail, jumped over the last step, and landed on the stones of the esplanade. The great floodlit façade of Lausanne Cathedral filled his eyes.
‘Bonsoir. Still standing, are you? Good for you. Listen, you old pile of stones, we must be ready. Old man winter is trying to sneak into Lausanne tonight, and Monsieur Dufaux wants us to chase him away. Do you hear?’
He shuffled toward the cathedral…
‘What do you mean, you don’t need me to tell you winter is hiding in the rain? What do you mean, you already know? How could you already know? Oh, I see, because you know everything already…Oh, please, it’s the same silliness with you every night. Thou shalt not this, thou shalt not that. That’s all you have to say.’”
Katherine Taylor is an American living in Lausanne, drawn there so she can make a fortune from her biggest asset, her beauty, while it lasts. She’s posed for Playboy and has become a very highly paid call girl in The Two Hundred Club, a club whose members are among the wealthiest and most powerful men in Europe. She’s very much in demand and leads a life of luxury few women her age could imagine. Katherine owns a flat just down the street from the cathedral and loves to see the watcher call the hour and all is well from the quaint bell tower every night.
“Nothing else needed. Her hazel-colored eyes did the rest. It was the flaw in her left eye, a silver squiggle in the iris. Men looked at it, then they stared, then they were hooked.
Tonight’s lucky fish, some Brit with a double-barreled name. Senior partner in London’s biggest law firm. He requested she wear her hair down on her shoulders. All her clients liked her to look the way she looked in the pictures. Playboy, Girls of UCLA issue. Barely legal, Katherine Taylor was the star with the cover shot. ‘Jean Seberg’s cool in the body of an angel,’ read the photo caption.”
Jay Harper is a man with no memory. He woke up in England to a ringing phone, with no idea why he was in England. Apparently he’s a British detective because in that phone call he was been hired by the International Olympic Committee to come to Lausanne to search for a renowned Russian gold medalist who embarrassingly has a gambling and drug problem, and who has now disappeared. Jay is very suspicious about why he was hired, his employer, and what he’s really supposed to be doing in Lausanne. In other words, he smells a rat.
“’Where the hell am I?’…Let the phone ring, thinking the bloody thing would give up sooner or later. It didn’t…’Good evening Mr. Harper.’
‘Who?’…He reached for the passport. Photo inside with a name. Jay Michael Harper. Born: London, 1971.”
You might be thinking – What on earth could these three people have in common, other than the fact that they are converging in Lausanne, Switzerland? A lot as it turns out.
Horrific ritualistic murders begin to be committed in the sleepy town of Lausanne. Jay Harper suspects they could be tied somehow to the disappearance of the missing Olympian, so he begins to follow the trail of bodies. Katherine accepts an offer that puts her into the clutches of the demonic beings responsible for the murders, the beings Marc knows as the bad shadows. Marc and the cathedral, with its ancient secrets, are her only hope for escaping them. How can Jay and Marc find the key to stopping the bad shadows?
All three of these main characters drew me into the story very quickly. I liked Marc and Jay instantly but had all kinds of judgments about Katherine. Midway through the story, those judgments got tossed out the window as she transformed and grew as a person through very traumatic and shocking circumstances.
No review synopsis can do The Watchers justice because it is so phenomenally deep and complex. Jon Steele has written a modern thriller masterpiece, pulling from medieval gothic myths and religious mysticism in a very unexpected way. Yep I’m gushing all over the place because it’s just that good. It felt like I was watching a spell-binding movie, probably thanks to the author’s film background.
This is a smart, heavily researched novel that is one hell of a roller coaster ride. It is sweet, beautiful, tantalizing, horrific, awe-inspiring, and highly entertaining. It’s one of those thought-provoking novels that you think about for days afterward. I highly recommend it! And one lucky reader is going to win a hardback copy of their very own!
Excerpts from an Interview with Jon Steele:
Q: How would you yourself describe the novel? Is it a thriller? Fantasy? A religious novel?
A: One of the real pleasures of hearing from people who’ve read The Watchers is this one calling it “a thriller,” that one calling it “a fantasy.” I remember a commentator on Irish radio referring to The Watchers as “something out of Paradise Lost.” The truth is I never set out with a genre in mind. I knew I wanted to tell a story about a mysterious young man who lives in the shadows and calls the hour from the belfry of Lausanne Cathedral. As it developed, the voices of the characters took over and began to tell me the story, and they led me down ever-darkening lanes. I’ve never been comfortable assigning a description to the story, but, at the backend of a few glasses, and remembering the transcendental experience of writing it, I’d call it Mystical Noir.
Q: A central character in The Watchers is le guet, a young man who lives a shadowy life and calls the hour from the belfry of the cathedral. Does such a job exist, or is this a figure you created for your fiction?
A: One night, a friend and I were driving by Lausanne Cathedral and he pointed to a faint light on the lower balcony of the belfry. He told me it was the lantern of le guet de Lausanne…the watcher. Not knowing what my friend was talking about, I asked him to explain. He told me le guet de Lausanne was the man who called the hour over Lausanne through the night as it had been done, each night, for 800 years. He said le guet de Lausanne was the last one of his kind in the world, and then he said, ‘Would you like to meet him?’
A few minutes later, we were standing on the esplanade beneath the belfry of Lausanne Cathedral, bottle of wine in hand, and my friend was shouting, “Renato! Renato!” I saw a small shadow poke his head through the balcony railings, one hundred meters above the esplanade…
My friend led me inside the Cathedral and we climbed the winding stone steps of the tower…But when we stepped onto [the] lower balcony of the belfry to see the moonlit mountains above the dark and swirling lake, I felt I’d discovered a place unconnected to the earth. A place that existed somewhere between the stars and man. I knew, at once, there was a story to be told about this place and my imagination was desperate to find it. Then, as if by wizardry, a small man stepped from the shadows of the bells. There was a black, floppy hat on his head and a very old lantern hanging from his hand. He had the brightest eyes.
“Hello, it’s only me,” he said.
That’s how I met Renato Hausler, le guet de Lausanne.
Q: The novel opens with a prologue, set during the First World War, involving the poet Philip Edward Thomas, who died in battle. What connection does this seemingly unrelated story have to the rest of the novel?
A: The thread stitching The Watchers together is a reflection on the nature of death. More to the point, what happens when life ends? The mythologies of death hold mankind in their spell as much as the mythologies of creation. They are the mystical bookends of human existence. I believe human existence is not just influenced but defined by those bookends.
The Watchers is a work of fiction set in present day Lausanne, Switzerland. So, yes, it may seem odd to open with a prologue based on the very real death of the British soldier-poet, Edward Thomas; killed on the field of battle near Arras, France in 1917. In fact, the prologue, Quietus, tells the reader exactly what they are in for…a mystical journey into the nature of creation, existence, and death. In The Watchers, the journey is a long and winding road that, suddenly, makes a shocking turn when Jay Harper (a detective without a single memory of a life) discovers the truth of his own existence. The human mythologies fall away and a line of poetry runs through Harper’s head like something long lost and now found…Blessed are the dead, that the rain rains upon. The words were written by Edward Thomas on January 7, 1916; a little more than a year before the soldier-poet was killed on the field of battle. And as Harper recites the words, he understands “the truth” of all human existence.
Can’t wait to read it?
The Watchers was published on May 29, 2012 in the U.S., so it should be available from your favorite bookseller below. Just click the button to go get there to get it.
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One lucky reader will win a hardcopy of The Watchers by Jon Steele!
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1) The deadline for entries is Wednesday night, 6/6/2012, at 11:59pm EDST. No entries after that date/time will be eligible.
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