The Old Man's Request

Book One of the Utgarda Trilogy

Fiction - Supernatural
156 Pages
Reviewed on 08/10/2016
Buy on Amazon

This author participates in the Readers' Favorite Book Review Exchange Program, which is open to all authors and is completely free. Simply put, you agree to provide an honest review an author's book in exchange for the author doing the same for you. What sites your reviews are posted on (B&N, Amazon, etc.) and whether you send digital (eBook, PDF, Word, etc.) or hard copies of your books to each other for review is up to you. To begin, click the purple email icon to send this author a private email, and be sure to describe your book or include a link to your Readers' Favorite review page or Amazon page.

This author participates in the Readers' Favorite Book Donation Program, which was created to help nonprofit and charitable organizations (schools, libraries, convalescent homes, soldier donation programs, etc.) by providing them with free books and to help authors garner more exposure for their work. This author is willing to donate free copies of their book in exchange for reviews (if circumstances allow) and the knowledge that their book is being read and enjoyed. To begin, click the purple email icon to send this author a private email. Be sure to tell the author who you are, what organization you are with, how many books you need, how they will be used, and the number of reviews, if any, you would be able to provide.

Author Biography

Joab Stieglitz is an avid tabletop RPG player and game master of horror, espionage, fantasy, and science fiction genres, which he plays 3-4 times a week. Joab is a Senior Business Analyst for a software company. He has also worked as a software trainer, a network engineer, a project manager, and a technical writer over his 30 year career. He lives in Alexandria, Virginia.

    Book Review

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.

Jack Magnus

The Old Man's Request: Book One of the Utgarda Trilogy is a supernatural thriller written by Joab Stieglitz. Jason Longborough, a senior trustee of Reister University, was ailing and had asked for both Anna Rykov, an anthropologist and expert in Ancient Russian Vikings, or Varangians, and Father Sean O'Malley, an ancient history professor who specialized in middle and far eastern history, to attend his bedside in the university hospital. His doctor, Harry Lamb, was also included in the conference. Each of these visitors had been new appointees to Reister, and had become friends as they got to know their new environment. And Longborough had been instrumental in getting each of them their places within the University. When they gathered around him, he had a very strange story to tell them. It was late spring in 1929, but the tale he had to tell was of a different time, spring of 1871, when Longborough was a freshman at Reister and had joined with four other students in a group devoted to exploring the strange truths and uncovering the secrets of the universe. They called themselves The Cabal and eventually moved their ceremonies to a farm in a neighboring town for privacy. Brent Hanke, one of the five, came from a family whose shipping interests allowed him to gather rare and arcane items from around the world. One such item, a golden box containing a small chunk of amber, was reputed to have the powers to contact an oracle. The five students decided to give it a try, and the results were not at all what they had been expecting.

Joab Stieglitz's supernatural thriller, The Old Man's Request: Book One of the Utgarda Trilogy, is a tantalizing and utterly delicious homage to H.P. Lovecraft that will have fans of Cthulhu Mythos literature swooning and shivering in delight as they read of The Cabal's disastrous ritual and the task Longborough's three visitors are charged with. As I read The Old Man's Request, I was excited as I recognized through some of the signs and portents that this book might indeed concern the elder gods of Lovecraft's classic dark fantasy. After all, the setting, timeline, and certain tell-tale references seemed designed to pique the fancy of those readers who were all too familiar with chants invoking Yog Sothoth and the other gruesome elder gods who really shouldn't be invoked under any circumstances. And then I read the invocation, and I realized that, yes, Joab Stieglitz's Utgarda Trilogy will resonate with the eldritch and cosmic horror that Lovecraft fans are always on the lookout for. Stieglitz's story is taut and suspenseful, and his characters are perfectly suited for the task at hand. His Reister University, with its enigmatic librarian and riverside setting, had me remembering reading my first Lovecraft book and thinking that Miskatonic University would be a grand place to go for an education. Frankly, I can't wait for the next volume in this series. The Old Man's Request: Book One of the Utgarda Trilogy is most highly recommended.

Patricia Reding

In The Old Man’s Request by Joab Stieglitz, it is 1929, and Anna Rykov, born of Russian immigrants, and now a widowed archaeologist specializing in Russian Vikings, has taken a temporary position at Reister University. At Reister, Anna meets Harry Lamb, a doctor, and Father Sean O’Malley, a priest versed in Middle and Far East history, and with some experience in exorcism. The three find themselves together at the hospital to pay their respects to Jason Longborough, the man responsible for bringing them all to Reister.

Longborough is dying, but makes a request of them. A group he had formed years back, the Cabal, studied things of the occult. While the Cabal set out to cast out an evil presence at a farm that the group had purchased for privacy and had unwittingly summoned there, they’d been unsuccessful. Indeed, their efforts had ended in catastrophe. Still, they had managed, with the use of glyphs and warding symbols, to bind the otherworldly creature to the farmhouse. Now Longborough wants Rykov, Lamb, and O’Malley to cast out the being. What follows is how the three decipher the information they will require from ancient texts, and then gather the tools they need to fulfil the old man’s last request.

Joab Stieglitz has happened upon subject matter that fans of tales about the occult, runes, glyphs, potions, crystals, and silver-based weapons formed against evil are sure to find interesting, as all these matters come into play. Added in is a bit of a mystery as the evil entity seeks to hinder the trio's possible success. Intending to see to Longborough’s wishes to free the farmhouse and then release it to Longborough’s son, Rykov, Lamb, and O’Malley each lend their unique expertise to the venture. Just as the three must believe in their venture to be successful, readers will quickly find themselves believing in the need to rid the world of the evil presence they pursue.

Mamta Madhavan

The Old Man's Request: Book One of the Utgarda Trilogy by Joab Stieglitz is a compelling read with twists and turns that will take readers into the world of anthropologist Anna Rykov, Doctor Harry Lamb, and Father Sean O'Malley. They have been asked by the last of a group of old college students to help banish the evil entity released into the world fifty years back by the group who practiced occult science. Set in the 1920s, the first part of this trilogy will make readers wonder if these three newcomers have the resources, knowledge, and strength to destroy the entity. As they get into the task, they realize the entity has much more power than they had expected. Will they succeed in their mission?

The plot is fast paced and has good movement with its unexpected twists and turns. It takes readers by surprise at many stages and the ending is unpredictable, making the story gripping and entertaining. The narration is descriptive, detailed, and vivid, taking readers right into the heart of the book and bringing the characters to life for them. The author's words build up the suspense, intrigue, and mystery of the plot effectively. Anna Rykov, Harry Lamb, and Father Sean O'Malley have been portrayed well, making them memorable to readers. It's a quick read and will appeal to all types of readers.

Rabia Tanveer

The Old Man's Request by Joab Stieglitz is about fighting the odds because it is the right thing to do, even if it means that you will not survive this battle. Some college students let a terrifying entity out into this world when they mistakenly dabbled with the occult. Now, fifty years later, only one of the original college friends is alive, making him the only one who knows what happened that night. He is on the brink of death too, and this may be his only chance to send that entity back to where it came from. He enlists the help of three young people. Anna Rykov (a Russian anthropologist), Doctor Harry Lamb, and Father Sean O'Malley are the three chosen for this task. But can they handle it? Can they gather the information they need to become powerful enough to send this evil presence back, or will they perish before they can do something about it?

The novel is set in the 1920s and it is pretty good. The characters dress and speak according to the era. The mystery element of the novel is also pretty good. I could actually read the novel without being too scared, but was scared enough to keep on reading it. A fine line that author Stieglitz nailed. I am actually looking forward to the next novel in the series because I just have to read it and know more about these three main characters. I love the cover; it fits well with the novel and the story behind it.