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Hexes by Tom Piccirilli
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As the reader approaches this novel it quickly becomes apparent that there are few untainted souls in Summerfell. And that today's heroes were yesterday's villains in a complex story of damnation for all the right reasons. Something has haunted Summerfell for far longer than Summerfell has existed. And now it has come to roost in the Galen family, in particular on Michael Galen and his friends. Five years ago they unleashed the awful and now Michael has been drawn back to complete the bargain.

Michael's friend A.G. has been locked up in Panecraft Asylum after being found clutching the skeleton of a woman on his porch, accompanied by an unconscious boy. He is suspected of having murdered his girlfriend and has chosen retreat as his best defense. Michael returns to find out what has happened and help if possible. The two men share the bond of an unholy witchcraft - and the knowledge that Baphomet is rising, as the Prince of Evil's pentacle is engraved scar by scar on Michael's chest.

The madness doesn't stay in Panecraft, which was founded by Michael's father, and was where his mother died. It leaks out into wealthy citizens, policemen, and even the plain folk for whom Michael has always cared. A horrific sacrifice has Michael and his friends searching for another killer, and the events of the present run in haunting parallel to those that drove Michael away five years ago. This time, though, there is no easy walk to safety.

Tom Picccirilli does something unique in telling this tale with no attempt at lengthy explanation. We are made conscious of a continuing flow of ritual magic, but we never get bogged down in manuscript and incantation. Instead, the reader is simply transplanted into a world where a perfectly ordinary high school athlete can also be an honors student of the occult. And despite the steady degeneration of the town and its residents, we never lose faith in a hero who is half way to damnation.
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