We open on Lieutenant Colonel Christine Kurzow, racked with guilt and fresh from an attempted suicide, receiving a visit from a General inviting her to use her remaining time towards a worthy end. He controls a unit wherein people who are already dying allow themselves to go a little bit early so they can track down important information from people who are already dead. They then relay this information to the unit’s psychic. Christine, an atheist, is extremely skeptical, but she agrees. We follow along as she handles her first case: a serial murderer kidnapped eleven children and died before they were found. Now Christine must both convince a man to follow the killer into the Gnostic afterlife and also act on intel gained from the dead in order to save these children, who are quickly running out of time.
The Terminals is exactly as exciting as it sounds. Stewart does a brilliant job of switching back and forth between the perspectives of Christine, one of the kidnapped children, and various people in the afterlife. The scenes featuring the children are horrifying, but they serve as a constant reminder of the stakes. The depiction of what the dead experience is equally intense. In this story, the afterlife varies according to your beliefs, a fascinating concept. The particular beliefs of the man searching for the killer create some fantastic and terrifying landscapes that feel almost mythical.
The best part of the book, however, is Christine. She is a broken spirit desperate for redemption or, at least, an escape. She agrees to work in a unit that she doesn’t believe in so she can save lives and make up for her previous actions. Despite being downtrodden, she is extremely relatable, and her every triumph and setback as she tries to slowly piece herself back together makes for excellent reading.
While it is a little slow at the beginning, and some of the scenes are definitely not for the faint of heart, The Terminals is a great story. It is thrilling, emotionally intense, beautiful, horrifying, and absolutely compelling.
|Non Sequitur Press
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|Mystery, Crime, Thriller