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Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers' Favorite
The Old Man's Request is Book One of the Utgarda Trilogy by Joab Stieglitz, a promising entry for a trilogy that will most certainly find a comfortable home with fans of the supernatural genre. It has been fifty years since a group of students released an evil entity into the world and now the last of the group, Jason Longborough, old and dying, wants it banished before facing eternity, so he invites three others to help in the task. Very prominent and gifted personalities - Anna, a Russian anthropologist, Dr. Harry Lamb, and a priest, Sean O’Malley - work frantically to devise a way of sending the entity back to where it came from, but there are others who may make things even more complicated for them: the old man’s son, a dubious investigator, and the old librarian. The stakes are high!
The story starts with the dying man inviting the scientist to see him in the hospital. The urgency of the situation and the fact that he may carry a secret with him to the grave already creates a sense of anticipation in the reader. “My time draws to an end soon, and there is a grave matter from my past that must be addressed…” are the words the old man uses to start his request. Yes, from the very beginning the reader is hooked with the beautiful descriptions of the characters and the thought provoking backstory that is carefully measured to enhance characterisation without impeding the plot in any way. Anna and Father O’Malley are compelling characters that readers will love from the very beginning of the story.
I loved the fact that the conflict is introduced from the very first page of this gripping tale, but how it develops is what will blow your mind, then there is the oh-so-satisfying denouement that will make you want to read back again. Joab Stieglitz has a gift for prose, but his plot will entertain readers. The Old Man's Request is one of the best books I have reviewed this year and one I’d recommend to readers without the slightest hesitation.