Book Review: Heaven’s Witches (A.R. Braun)
A.R. Braun became interested in horror when he read “The Telltale Heart” as an assignment in high school. By the time he was eighteen, he had the whole Stephen King collection and started writing short stories for friends and family. His main goal was to put together a heavy metal band, and he spent many years working blue collar jobs and seeking out musicians, but never fell in with the right kind of guys.
Now, A. R. has numerous publication credits, including “NREM Sleep” in the D.O.A. anthology; “Freaks” in Downstate Story magazine; “The Unwanted Visitors” in the Vermin anthology; “Coven” in the Heavy Metal Horror anthology; “Remember Me?” in Horror Bound magazine; “Shades of Gray (the Symbiosis of Light and Dark)” in Micro Horror magazine; and “The Interloper” in Bonded by Blood 2: a Romance in Red.
His latest book, Heaven’s Witches is billed as potentially his sickest story yet and after reading it, it certainly will turn a few stomachs. Don’t let that put you off though, this is a thrilling and interesting story that has an excellent payoff.
The story is all about religious fanaticism and how people can be taken in by a cult only to realise to late just what they are part of. This is the story of Heaven’s Witches. One that sees an evil man (Pastor Ren) believe that he is God’s true messenger and seek out those desperate for help. Alcoholics, loners and those who have lost faith in Catholicism. He seeks them out, promises to save them from themselves and all he asks is that they devote themselves to his new church.
At first it seems great, Pastor Ren tells them what they want to hear and seems to always know what they are thinking or planning to do. He saves them from themselves and each person finds themselves drawn deeper into his cult.
Then Pastor Ren starts to make demands. Demands that he says God has allowed him to make because of his devotion. Stuff that makes many in his congregation question if he is really a man of God or is in fact in league with the Devil.
Heaven’s Witches builds and builds to a horrifying climax that will disturb many a reader. This is not a story for the fainthearted as it touches upon many a taboo. There are clear influences from some of the horror greats within the descriptive style. A little bit of Stephen King, a little bit of Clive Barker all mixed in with A.R. Braun’s twisted mind.
The gory bits, the moments that make you shift uncomfortably would be nothing without context and A.R. Braun spends enough time building this world…this cult to make it mean something. It’s not perfect, some of the characters are little faceless and their inability to see certain events coming, frustrating. However, this is a cult. It’s a cult from the very first service dressed up to appear to be a traditional take on Christianity and these people are desperate for help. It does make sense just why they allow things to get so far.
You’re constantly on edge, filled with tension and disgust at the hypocritical Pastor.
This isn’t a book you’d read your kiddie at night, it’s a visceral and down-right nasty read. It’s not for everyone but if that description gets you excited then make sure you check out Heaven’s Witches.
Heaven's Witches (A.R. Braun)
The Final Score - 7/10