Kings of the Earth by Christopher Stanton is a captivating debut literary paranormal thriller that brims with mystery and unexpected twists. Great Water, Michigan, is a city that hides deadly secrets and one that witnesses unexplained disappearances. It was in this same city that a double homicide was committed in 1918 and the house where Jack Spivey lost it still captivates tourists. Now in 2000, Lance is mentoring Eric in the mystical art of soul surfing. Martin is a security guard struggling with mental illness. Twenty-five-old Jenny is pregnant. Their lives are upended with an event that happens every 30 years — the intersection of the blood moon, high tide, and fog. Lance goes missing and Martin and Eric become witnesses to irrational acts of violence.
In this paranormal tale, three characters struggle against the odds to survive the pull of a mysterious power. The narrative has strong plot points with a compelling and intriguing premise. The portal that opens and that pulls in random people while letting out ghosts that roam the city captures the interest of the reader and introduces an element of mystery and suspense that permeates the story. Each character is faced with a difficult challenge — Martin struggles to not let himself be pulled over the edge of insanity and indulge in violence, Jenny wants nothing but to find Lance, her husband, who has disappeared mysteriously, and young surfer Eric must unravel the mystery of the past after receiving a letter from his departed father. While Kings of the Earth is a supernatural thriller, it has strong echoes of coming of age. The inner worlds of the characters are vividly explored and readers find themselves navigating a world where darkness brushes with light, where reality is affected by the disturbing power of a spiritual world. Stanton’s affecting characters and surprising plot twists make this novel an exciting ride. The prose in Kings of the Earth is gorgeous and the writing confident, laden with compelling and vivid descriptions; the setting is a world steeped in mystery; and the narrative voice is irresistibly absorbing.