So I’ve just finished reading Robert R. McCammons’ first two novels; Baal and Bethany’s Sin. I’m not going to write a full on review but will say he got better.
I’ve reviewed a little of McCammon’s work previously and have always considered myself a huge fan of his work. These two novels (and a few others) I had never read so I’ve decided to go back and do so. I’m doing this mainly because I’ve just bought his continuation of my favorite character of his Michael G. from the Wolf’s Hour and I’m itching to read the two of the them back to back (The Wolf’s Hour and Hunter From the Woods).
Baal was McCammon’s first novel and he readily admits it to be his young man angst novel and it shows. Baal is a story of a denizen of hell and how it/he is the reason for hell on earth. I’m simplifying to a horrific extent and know that demonic stuff is a fav of mine but the flow of the story just didn’t work for me. The book starts with the rape of woman and the resulting birth of evil Baal then it jumps to (at the time of this books) present time. We are introduced to characters that I never really got invested in, a story that I wanted to be engaged in but never did.

Bethanys’ Sin was his second novel, third to be published (or visa-verse) and the set up was, imho, better than in Baal but by the time I got to the climax I, for whatever reason didn’t care that much.  Evan and his wife Kay move to eerily named town to escape bad memories in previous home but ideal town becomes Stepford town.  Evan has premonitions in the forms of dreams that he thinks he believes in but is not sure, and his wife is adamant that he brings the suffering atop the family by his own hand and his dreams are just that .. dreams.  Evan begins to notice that men are a minority in the town, he hears horses in the distance and the woman seem to be in control.  What could this all mean … it means danger to the men and most of all to Evan.  But why?  What is the connection to Evan’s past?  It felt like there should have been but I didn’t get it.  Once again by the time the 3rd act came around I was just trying to get to the end.

None of this is to say that they were “bad” books.  Maybe it was just me and my temperment and moods I was feeling as I was reading them.  I’ll continue to say that McCammon is one the best authors of his time and I will continue to read and re-read his novels, past and future ones.  I think that it could be a combination of two things; a sign of the times and what was popular and what readers were looking for in the late 70’s and 80’s (Baal was published in ’79 and Sin a year later).  There seems to be a certain style of writing that was prominent throughout that era of paperback novels much as there was in the films of the same time.  It just may not speak to me now as it did then.  It also could be simply that RRM was just getting started, it may not be till his fourth or fifth book that I’ll start seeing the writer that I’m in love with now.

I’m also knowledgeable that the webmasters of his website scour the net for reviews and mentions of his name and books ( my review of The Five was posted on their website, still so stoked about that).  I urge the webmaster to acknowledge that this meager “review” is not meant as a full fledged review of the novels, it is more of a blog/diary summary of my experience re-reading one my favorite authors bibliography.   I respectfully ask that as I truly review more of his novels that you continue to read my reviews and if deem them worthy to post them on the website.  This post is not meant to be taken as a critique as most review are, it is, I must repeat just a review of my feelings.

sorry Robert I’m still a huge fan – don’t be angry with me 😦