Practitioners: Matt Hayward & Patrick Lacey (Kendall Review)

Practitioners: Matt Hayward & Patrick Lacey

Reviewed by Brian Bogart

Dreams aren’t just for the sleeping.

After the murder of his wife, Officer Henry Stapleton struggles to move on. He begins experiencing nightmares that seem more like reality. Far beyond simple grieving. Looking for answers, he visits a mysterious new healing center, owned by real estate mogul Paul White. There’s just one problem. The man doesn’t exist. Though his name appears on his properties, there is no evidence of White’s birth, no social security number, no means of tracing whatsoever. Henry begins to believe White is to blame for these visions. And they’re spreading to others.

Joined by his partner George Patrick, the two travel deeper into the collective nightmare infecting Bellview, a once quiet town now in the grasps of unknown evil.

Reality may not be as concrete as Henry Stapleton once thought…

PRACTITIONERS was a book I had been dying to read this year. I kept putting it off because I knew that I would be seeing Hayward in person at Belfast Horror Con and figured I would pick it up in person. Was it worth the wait?

I’ll put it to you this way:

Matt Hayward and Patrick Lacey have crafted a seamless collaboration that conjures up strange, nightmarish imagery and wrapped it inside of a noir-styled cop drama, complete with a heavy-drinking detective and a dead wife, lucid dreaming and monsters dying to burst forth from not just the shadows, but also the bodies of those who slumber.

How’s that for a recommendation?

I’m a fan of noir detective stories, but I will admit that some of the staples of it can be stale. For instance, I was worried that Henry’s partner would just be a cookie-cutter stand-in of sorts; you know, the detective’s valiant partner at his side, warning and commenting without never expanding in depth. Although it takes a bit, his partner does get fleshed out as the story unfolds. Thanks for alleviating that concern, guys. Well done.

So, we have Henry having violent psychotic breaks, daydreaming of torturing his wife’s killer. These fill us in to the desperation and anger in the detective and the sense of loss that he can’t escape from, no matter how deep the bottle. It is clear that Henry’s condition is worsening… so where do we go from here?

Haunted by these nightmares, Henry takes up studying lucid dreaming, thanks to a mysterious healing center that has recently opened. It’s at this point that I realized that these early flirtations with dream sequences and confused reality were just the beginning.

Two realities. Lucid astral travel. Flesh-eating denizens from the dream world. It’s a surreal concoction that works, in thanks to the inability to tell Hayward’s voice from Lacey’s as they dream together in unison.

The landscapes cobbled together and ideas presented begin to escalate as the pages turn. It is like a strange homage to police stories and Nightmare On Elm Street. It even begins to feel a little like early Barker at times- and that, my friends- is NEVER a bad thing, in my opinion.

I will admit that I do wish some of the dream sequences were even more “out there”- a little bit wilder or even more surreal that what is given. But hell, that could just be that feeling you get when you read something entertaining and you simply want MORE of it.

Blood, guts, monsters and altered realities… Fun stuff!

Outside of me wanting there to be more than what is presented (the book clocks in at just over 200 pages)- I really enjoyed the trip into the authors’ world(s). I would have easily read another hundred pages.

These two make a damn good team and the gorgeous cover design by Rachel Autumn Deering is perfect for this book. It brings to mind my youthful reading material, too. (I was really into Crowley and The Golden Dawn, and high ceremonial magick in general. Still am, to a degree.)

So, close your eyes.

Inhale.

Exhale.

Clear your mind.

SLEEP …

PRACTITIONERS just might make a dream warrior out of you, as well.

Dreams aren’t just for the sleeping.

After the murder of his wife, Officer Henry Stapleton struggles to move on. He begins experiencing nightmares that seem more like reality. Far beyond simple grieving. Looking for answers, he visits a mysterious new healing center, owned by real estate mogul Paul White. There’s just one problem. The man doesn’t exist. Though his name appears on his properties, there is no evidence of White’s birth, no social security number, no means of tracing whatsoever. Henry begins to believe White is to blame for these visions. And they’re spreading to others.

Joined by his partner George Patrick, the two travel deeper into the collective nightmare infecting Bellview, a once quiet town now in the grasps of unknown evil.

Reality may not be as concrete as Henry Stapleton once thought…

You can buy Practitioners from Amazon UK & Amazon US

Brian Bogart

Brian Bogart is an American author of dark fiction and horror/fantasy. He has written stories most of his life and has been a fan of the genre since the age of seven. His approach to storytelling is a tad macabre at times but tries to capture the nuances of the humanity and sometimes, inhumanity, beneath the surface. He supports the horror community with bloodied open arms and demonic vigor.

Dream Darkly and Keep Writing.

You can follow Brian on Twitter @DreamsDarkly

To find out more about Brian please visit his WattPad page DreamsDarklyWattpad

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