Epeolatry Book Review: Sisters of the Crimson Vine by P.L. McMillan
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Title: Sisters of the Crimson Vine
Authors: P.L McMillan
Publisher: Timber Ghost Press
Genre: Folk Horror, Cosmic Horror
Release Date: 6th December, 2022
Synopsis: John Ainsworth nearly died in that car crash. Soon he’ll learn there are worse fates. After a brutal accident, John awakens in the dilapidated Crimoria Convent under the care of thirteen unconventional nuns. Grievous injuries trap him within the borders of the ruined sanctuary and its strangely successful vineyard. When his body starts healing faster than nature allows, John’s questions quickly pile up. A pair of Church auditors arrive to look into the convent’s finances. It’s obvious the pair are unwelcome guests, but John has bigger concerns. The order’s annual ritual draws near and John begins to discover things that make him wonder if any of them are truly safe in the hands of the Sisters of the Crimson Vine.
The world always needs more awesome cosmic and folk horror. P.L. McMillan has provided both with her new novella Sisters of the Crimson Vine. A cross of folk, cosmic, and Catholic horror, McMillan weaves a tale which pulls readers to the end.
Mr. Ainsworth is in a car accident and is taken in by the nuns of a remote convent. But something is different about them. They do not wear wimples and tend to walk around bare foot. There, while under the care of the Sisters, he meets a visiting priest and his assistant who are investigating the convent for not paying tithes to the church. From there, long-simmering intrigue at the convent entwines Ainsworth and the Priests.
Through this novella, McMillan explores the trappings of the patriarchal systems of the Catholic church as well as the many shades of grey of the moral spectrum. The general shape of the plot is apparent early on, but the excitement of this novella is more about how McMillan delivers those final blows to finish off the story arc. Every page is worth it—not that they are a chore by any means. McMillan’s prose flows with beautiful tension—the insanity waiting for readers at the end is delicious.
With hints of both The Wickerman and Lovecraft with a Catholic horror twist, Sisters of the Crimson Vine is like a fine wine to be sipped and savored. Readers will need massive willpower to not fly through this book in one sitting.
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Joe lives with his wife and son in the Pacific Northwest where the Cascade Mountains meet the Salish Sea. He enjoys writing in the weird, horror, and fantasy genres.
Growing up he enjoyed R. L. Stine’s Goosebumps books as well as classics like Dune, and Lord of the Rings. In college he discovered Stephen King, and later Mark Danielewski’s House of Leaves and authors like Clive Barker and Laird Barron.
Joe’s short story, ‘Gustav Floats’, was published in Dim Shores Presents Volume 2. In the spring of 2021 his story, ‘The Pigeon Lied’ comes out in Howls From Hell.
You can follow Joe on the following social media sites:
Twitter, Good Reads, Facebook, and Instagram!