94178352England, 1994. Villages in Sussex are vanishing into thin air at an alarming rate. Gino Marcotti – the Gran Maestro Occultist, son of the official occultist of the Fascist Italian Regime – is tasked to investigate by the Royal Paranormal Institute in Greenwich. His investigation takes an unexpected turn when he realises that the Black Metal scene, with its recent homicides and arson attacks on Norwegian churches, is connected to these disappearances. But he soon discovers that there are bigger and more malevolent forces at play – and the only way to defeat them is to connect with his dead father.

A Crack in the World is a fast-paced Occult Detective novel that plays with paranormal, cosmic horror and dark academia themes. A thrilling race across multidimensional portals for the fans of The X-Files, Twin Peaks and H. P. Lovecraft.

Source Format Pages Publisher Genre Publication Date
author eARC 342 indie Occult Horror February 28th, 2023

I mean, hot damn! A Crack in the World is exactly the kind of indie that cements indie titles as worthy. I know Grady Hendrix is big, I love his books, apart from Horrorstör. Horrorstör was boring. So boring. Thus, if one was put in front of a choice: to read Horrorstör by the mighty Hendrix or A Crack in the World by Mordechai, I’d say go for Mordechai so fast, you’d think I was possessed. A Crack in the World is SO, SO worthy!

I love horror, but I am also very fussy when it comes to horror books and horror movies. Horror movies mainly make me laugh, they’re simply ridiculous because I can’t be afraid of something that doesn’t exist! A weird-looking, green goo spouting something-or-other is just laughable… A scary movie with spiders, though, that’s scary, because spiders exist! Anyway, horror books can be mindless gore. Gore does nothing for me in horror. I’m all sorts of whatever about the slashers… One could easily categorize me a bit psycho for not batting an eyelid at pointless blood-letting. Torn off limbs and overexaggerated spurting blood is just *smh*… What makes horror books good for me is the added depth to characters, to conflicts presented in the book, the dash of realism. Bonus points if author manages to make me question said realism and prompt a bit of an existential crisis by shaking my beliefs (or non-believing) in the supernatural. I have read some good horror, both traditionally and indie published. Now. When it comes to Occult Horror in particular, A Crack in the World takes the bloody cake!

Yes, it has demons, bloody creepy ones at that, but their existence and how they come to be and why is dancing on the edge of realistically questionable, and this is what makes this particular horror scary. It’s imaginative and otherworldly, but it uses such elements and small details that firmly sets its one foot to the reality as we know it and that’s triumphant!

Wooden panels carved with geometric patterns that only the initiated knew contained esoteric symbolism. Beautiful to the layman, full of significance for the occultist.

One thing this glorious indie horror totally is? Atmospheric! This is not a t-shirt and flip flops wearing slasher kind of reading experience. Far from it. A Crack in the World is a polished shoe and suit wearing entity that drinks expensive wine and knows a lot! It’s an experience to savour. This doesn’t however mean that it’s academically dry and slow paced – au contraire – it’s full of things to explore about the occult. It has a vibe of history and culture without ever becoming ridiculous or shallow. And there’s an investigative tone to boot. Yes, the Black Metal culture has been used here, but our main characters are not corpse paint wearing leathered up dudes chasing Satan… The Black Metal culture is an aspect weaved into to the bigger mystery that our MCs Gino and Carter are trying to solve.

Speaking of our main MCs – they are complete opposites in every sense of the word and their dynamic is cohesive in a way that let’s them both be the characters that they are individually meant to be in terms of solving the mystery of the vanishing villages, whilst at the same time it is obvious that one could not do without the other.

In a rare occurrence, A Crack in the World surprised me with some dry wit and humour. It surprised me with new twists and turns when I thought it would not have anything else left to surprise me with. And yet, it managed to surprise me until the very end. It also surprised me again and again with details that gave this story its essence. Gino’s father, for example, a man with a Fascist past. His backstory, the snippets from Gino’s childhood, really added that extra layer for helping me to visualize how far reaching and how deeply rooted (and yet at the same time invisibly bubbling under the surface) the occult society is. It makes this story believable. And mysterious like the goings on in a cigar smoke filled room. This society was not something that was created for the sake of the story and for the benefit of the reader’s enjoyment. It feels like this story is but a glimpse into something that is. Something that is true and real. You can feel sometimes when an author is insecure about the things they write. You can most definitely feel when an author is confident about the things they write. It’s the latter case that makes reading an enjoyable experience. It’s the latter when it comes to A Crack in the World. You WILL get the occult vibe 100% and it’s the detail from the author that has made it happen.

As you can tell, I loved this book. The story, the mystery, the links in between the past and the present, the fictional and supernatural swiftly merging and the incredible otherworldly feeling I got thanks to the carefully and boldly used occult elements. I’ve never read anything like it. I imagine if the religious folk got a hold of this book, they would wave it at the crowd, saying: “I told you so!” before swiftly banning it.

Occultism predates religion, let alone organized religion, and it will exist even when all religions and their gods are gone.

I’ll tell you what… James Mordechai is a dark horse to look out for in horror literature. If A Crack in the World is anything to go by, I can’t wait to see what he next has in store.

A black metal band name or a sigil? 😉