Karen Hall’s novel Dark Debts is a lot of things, but the most ‘terrifying horror thriller of the last decade’ is not one of them. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy this book – I did. But it didn’t scare me.
Dark Debts tells the story of Randa, a newspaper writer; Jack, eldest son of a cursed family (all of whom have either committed suicide or been executed); and Michael, a Jesuit priest who’s in love with Tess, a book editor. Their connection isn’t immediately apparent, but as it turns out they have more in common than you’d think. Don’t worry, all is revealed by the book’s rather neat-bow ending.
What I liked about Dark Debts had less to do with its, at times, heavy-handed musing on the nature of faith and more to do with Hall’s ability to write dialogue that is often very funny.It’s the dialogue that propels the novel along, and so it shouldn’t come as any surprise that Hall’s other career is as a successful television writer. (The fact that Dark Debts is destined for the big screen should therefore be no surprise either. )
Her characters are all likable, too, even when they do unrealistic things.
There’s a lot going on in Dark Debts – murders and devils and exorcisms, but none of it’s scary – or maybe I’ve just been forever spoiled by the demon who possessed Regan in The Exorcist.