Book Review: The Agony That Remains by Brandon Callahan

Have you ever considered all of the foods you really enjoy and then, on a whim, decided to throw them all together? Let’s toss in a little lasagna, sushi, flank steak. Add some black beans and asparagus. Creme brule. Watermelon. Lobster tails. Peanut butter pancakes with loads of maple syrup. And don’t forget popcorn, with extra butter. Then we’ll blend it all up and serve it in one amazing mouth-watering dish. Right?

Wrong.

The thing is, each of these dishes are brilliant on their own, but mixed together? They just make one big mushy pile of vomit.

AgonyIn The Agony That Remains, Callahan “investigates” a supposed paranormal occurrence. But rather than keeping it to a demon or ghost or other disturbance, we get the whole kitchen sink thrown into the mix for some heightened sensations that ultimately lead not to greater thrills but wariness, skepticism, and ultimately boredom.

Here’s a direct quote from the text, upon he and his team arriving on scene:

“So within the span of about three minutes, we went from demons to ghosts to Sasquatch and UFO’s.”

Don’t forget to add “little people,” possibly “death” itself, “visions” of the Colonial era and the savage butchery of Native American tribes, supposed “ley lines,” and a general assortment of haunted house gags and tricks. Even if this were an attempt at fiction, (which in reality, let’s face it, it is), it’s so grossly overdone that it’s like watching a James Bond flick from the Pierce Brosnan era, where bullets are flying non-stop at the hero and you’re yawning through it all.

For this to have worked more effectively, I feel we needed to know and have cared about our characters first and foremost. There’s no background, no sense of who these people are, (for both the investigators and Native American descendants), which means there’s no concern about the outcome. It also means we have no reason to believe these things are actually occurring, as any odd insight or tale of folklore is instantly believed by everyone present.

The actual investigations themselves read like a poorly thought out script … “Dude, are you seeing this?” / Hearing, Feeling, (Imagining) this? No, we’re reading it. And the EVP voices or bumps in the night aren’t as effective as they might be in a midnight showing of Paranormal Activity 17, where you can cheat the audience.

I really wanted to like this one, folks, but it took me so far outside the realm of disbelief that I sort of choked on every bite going down.

<I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influenced my opinions.>

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