The Coven Murders by Brian O’Hare #BookReview

Title: The Coven Murders | Series: Inspector Sheehan Mysteries #3 | Author: Brian O’Hare | Publisher: Crimson Cloak Publishing | Pub. Date: 2018-2-11 | Pages: 385 | ASIN: B079SHVTKH | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 3 out of 5 | Source: The Coven Murders is a book I agreed to review via Rosie’s Book Review Team.

The Coven Murders

The Coven Murders opens with a horrifying account of a ritual Black Mass with a human sacrifice in an abandoned church. Twenty-one years later, near an old ruined church in an area of outstanding natural beauty, Chief Inspector Sheehan and his team discover the skeleton of a young woman. But what seems initially to be a straightforward case, brings the team into conflict with a powerful Satanist who has plans to offer up to Satan another human sacrifice on the evening of the great Illuminati feast of Lughnasa. Several murders occur, baffling the Inspector until he makes a connection between the modern murders and the twenty-one year old skeleton. The team’s pursuit of the murderer, and their determination to protect a young woman who is targeted by the coven, lead to a horrific climax in a hellish underground crypt where Sheehan and his team, supported by an exorcist and a bishop, attempt to do battle with the coven and a powerful demon of Baphomet, jeopardising not only their lives, but risking the wrath of Satan upon their immortal souls.

Book cover for The Coven Murders

The Coven Murders Review

I chose to read The Coven Murders because even though it was a mystery, which is not something I often enjoy anymore, there was the promise of a daemonic element to it that made me curious. Having not read any of Brian O’Hare’s previous works in the past, I had no idea what to expect. However, the positive reviews on Goodreads made me hopeful. The setting of Ireland had a lot to do with my decision as well. For the most part, I’m pleased with what I read. Although, as usual, I’d figured out who the killer was within pages of meeting them. I don’t think that’s a failure on the author’s part as much as it is evidence that I read too much.

The Coven Murders was not exactly the right book for me. It is a much better book for someone who is more religiously inclined (and probably also doesn’t read nearly as much horror as I do.) While I do feel like the elements of the coven, its rituals and beliefs, felt real enough, I had trouble taking them seriously. There were several times during the book, with earnest dialogue between characters, that I found myself giggling and scolding myself with a firm “Yep, yep, you’re definitely going to Hell.” Even though the daemonic element is normally one that scares the bejesus out of me, and there was at least one legitimately creepy scene involving the largest casting out I’ve ever read about, I just could not commit myself to suspending disbelief for the book. Which is kind of stupid because if spiritual evil does exist, its probably most honestly described here than it is any of my climbing-on-the-ceiling horrors that I normally read.

I feel like I was hampered a bit by not reading the previous two books in the series because I think I would have enjoyed it more if I’d known the characters a bit better. As it was, I couldn’t really get the rhythm of some of the relationships that had been long established for a good bit of the book, so it felt a bit off. My chief complaint though, and the only one that’s a true criticism of the book rather than an acknowledgement of my own strangeness, is that it felt like all the ‘bad guys’ were blindingly obvious. A good portion of the first half of the read was spent with me mentally yelling at the characters and wondering how in the world a bunch of police could be that obtuse. I would have liked for there to have been a bit of, well, mystery involved there.

However, by the end of the book I was eager to see everything resolved. Even though it seemed obvious exactly what was going on, I was still interested enough to finish reading it. The story moves along at a nice clip. The detectives seem like a solid assortment of ‘good guys’ (and gals). The charm of the country (as well as its foibles) was obvious and endearing. I had found a certain affection starting to burgeon for a few of the members of the force. The way the book ended, while not a surprise, still managed to make me feel a pang of sadness for one of the unlucky fellows involved with things.

For someone who doesn’t read much traditional horror, but still wants to give themselves a tingle, The Coven Murders would be worth checking out. It’s a nicely-written mystery that is probably nearly perfect for the target audience. Unfortunately, my heathen self wasn’t the target audience. Still, it was a nice read and I don’t regret picking it up.

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3 thoughts on “The Coven Murders by Brian O’Hare #BookReview

  1. Thanks, Lilyn. I read the second book in this series and really enjoyed it. I have this one on my list. I do enjoy mysteries, although if you read many, the element of surprise seems more difficult to come by. 😉

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