Tuesday 5 October 2021

The Deadliest Sins - Andrew M. Seddon - Seven Supernatural Stories

The Deadliest Sins
Seven Supernatural Stories
Andrew M. Seddon
Far Wanderings
ISBN 9798720548704

I have read several books by Andrew M. Seddon, and have enjoyed them all. A few of his other offerings have sat on my to be read pile for a few years now. The fact that I have not got to them yet, is my loss and no indication of my expectations of the works in question. My favourites today are the two Saints Alive volumes, but this offering comes in as a close third. In some ways this book feels like a collection of ghost stories, but what came to mind as I was reading it was more of a reverse Screwtape Letters. Instead of tales of how to corrupt, it is stories that help you make better choices.

The stories contained within are told by Father Adrian Whiteley to his nephew Devin. They are told over time and across locations. But with each telling Devin ends up thinking about implications in his own life. And Father Adrian informs that each of the tales is one he experienced. The book is compiled after the good Father has been placed in a home and Devin is now residing in Hawthorne Cottage that had been given to him. In the prelude we are informed that:

“The days are past when I would visit my cousin Father Adrian Whiteley in his ivy-wrapped stone cottage to listen to one of his strange, supernatural tales. His health faltering, although his mind remains sharp, Adrian now resides in a care home. 
He wished to gift his little cottage in Northumberland to me, but I insisted, much to his displeasure, on purchasing it from him. I have not inquired, but I suspect that he donated the money to help alleviate the needs of the poor. That would have been his way, and it would please me also.
These tales are in honour of all the holy men and women doing their best to redirect travellers like myself who pass thoughtlessly or ignorantly along the broad road that leads to destruction, onto that narrow, harder, but far better way. And if these tales accomplish the same, I shall be content.”

It might be unusual to include the list of chapters for a fictional work. But the they are written almost as a musical piece. They are:

Theme And Introduction
1 In Ascalonem
Interlude -
2 A Shadow On The Wall
Interlude --
3 That Which Walks
Interlude ---
4 The Wicked Siren
Interlude ----
5 The Feather Of Ma’at
Interlude -----
6 The Battalion
Interlude ------
7 The Hard Woman
And the description of the book is:

“There are, of course, more than seven sins - humans have found myriads of ways to flaunt Divine law. And sin in general, by its very nature, is deadly. But seven of those sins have historically been considered especially dangerous to the human soul: Lust. Greed. Gluttony. Sloth. Envy. Wrath. Pride. Here, you will find seven tales of the supernatural regarding those deadliest of sins. Seven stories in which people fall prey to those sins... and suffer the consequences. But running alongside them is the story of one man's redemption. Sin doesn't have to have the last word.”

Each of the stories are powerful in their own way. Some will leave a deeper impression than others. But what makes the collection excellent are the interludes and the coda that tie the whole together. You will be moved buy the soldier being carried away by his men he commanded to their death. You will think a second time about a woman turned to stone. It will call to mind the hardness of hearts you know, and likely at times our own. And like Devin as we encounter each tale we may think about things going on in our own lives, either at present or in the near or distant past. 

The 7 stories for the seven sins are well written. They are tightly written. Many of Seddon’s works are collections of shorter pieces. For example the Saints Alive, Backenwood, and Walking with Celtic Saints; He is an expert at the form. In this one he wove the stories together, much as a musician crafts a new piece. I almost enjoyed the pieces before and after even more. For years now I have recommended the Saints Alive books frequently. This volume will be one of those ones I mention to others often. 

A great read. Seddon’s dedication to his craft comes out in this latest volume from his very capable pen. It is an excellent read and I highly recommend it.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan

Books by Andrew M. Seddon:
Walking with the Celtic Saints (with Neil & Gerlinde Kennedy-Jones)
Dr. Andrew's Curious and Quirky Compendium

Historical Fiction:
Imperial Legions

Saints Alive Series:

Saints Alive Second Editions:

Stories Of The Supernatural:
What Darkness Remains
In Death Survive
Science Fiction:
Red Planet Rising
Iron Scepter
The DeathCats of Asa’ican and Other Tales of a Space-Vet
Wreaths of Empire

German Shepherd Wanderings Series:
Bonds of Affection
Ranger's First Call

Contributed to:
Sky Songs
Sky Songs II
Fungi #20
Unintended Consequences
Silent Screams: An Anthology of Socially Conscious Dark Fiction
Eldritch Embraces: Putting the Love Back in Lovecraft
Tails from the Front Lines
Legends of Sleepy Hallow
Wolf Wanderings


Dan Gallagher said...

Dude, great work! But, I clicked through from the Catholic Writers Guild post to see no way to buy. Perhaps I'm looking in the wrong place; wanted to let you know that an immediate buy button would help you. I'd love a signed copy, if that's available. Please place me on your email list and include a buy button (love short stories, especially scary stuff in October!): Dan@AuthorDan.com. Also, the gmail email is dead. How did it end up showing on the screen? anyway?)

Best 2U & God bless!

Steven R. McEvoy said...

Here is a link to the book: https://www.amazon.ca/Deadliest-Sins-Seven-Supernatural-Stories/dp/B08YQFT1JR