Manhattan Grimoire by Sandy Deluca chronicles Gina’s struggles to overcome her sister Allie’s disappearance and probable murder. The last remaining sign of Allie was her blood found at an old condemned church deep in Harlem. A church that Gina feels somehow drawn to, and slowly she uncovers the horrific details of her sister’s life.
Deluca’s Manhattan Grimoire is written in a hypnotic first-person prose that draws readers in to a surreal world that’s just on the cusp of our own and teeming with dangers imagined but still real. Gina, Manhattan Grimoire’s narrator shares with readers her fears and hopes and through this Deluca creates one of the deepest protagonists in a horror novel I’ve read in years.
The small supporting cast is also drawn with skill and depth that ensures what could have been stock characters (attractive dangerous cop, homeless visionary, etc) never are. Each has their own motives and interacts differently with Gina.
Throughout the tight narrative, Deluca ensures that a sense of menace is constant. Gina never feels safe and in an instant, the dark atmospheric descriptions will be cast aside for moments of Clive Barker-like extreme violence. We’re afforded a chance to solve the supernatural mystery with Gina, and the clues are expertly strewn throughout the narrative.
In horror novels authors often try to find new ways to isolate their characters and heighten the menace around them. Deluca shuts down New York with a blizzard, creating creepy images of abandoned streets, and hints of unspeakable menace through the clouds of snow.
In the end Sandy Deluca’s Manhattan Grimoire is masterpiece of balance between the grit and grime of our world, and the menace that exists just beyond our perception. Deluca creates a sense of peril with nearly every word she writes, only to later reveal that the truth is darker than our fears. Those searching for a dark horror novel with a tangible atmosphere would be hard pressed to find a better read.