There are holes in the world. Tears in reality through which creatures are emerging, crawling up from their broken worlds. At one time emerging in their natural forms, they can no longer exist here without taking a native host, their bodies often warped, their minds rarely surviving. And if you stumble into this world, a quick death may be the best you can hope for.
The earliest written of my published novels (there’s one unpublished one which was written before it), this was intended as a pulpy action adventure story. I’m not sure how much of that intent is evident to the reader, though. It was episodic, and if I were writing it today – now eBooks are a viable option – I’d probably do it as distinct episodes. But as a whole I do feel it could feel a bit odd. There’s a definite story at the centre, but it could also have a monster of the chapter feel to it if you don’t approach it from a certain perspective, and doesn’t have much explanation until later in the book, which could put some off. It’s also probably overwritten.
It serves to set up a kind of shared setting which can link a number of my stories. The basic idea of possession via creatures from other dimensions passing through invisible portals allows me to use a single explanation for the cause of the various creatures in this story, as well as the werewolves and vampires of To Hunt Monsters. It could even explain the power in Rainbows in Eclipse, but I’ll leave that for a spoilers section in reviewing that book. (This theme of infection in the earlier books is probably influenced by my father’s cancer, and my unconscious dealing with it in some manner.)
Also linking stories is the faeries being behind a lot of stuff. This is from the older fairy tales where they’re always taking children and replacing them with changelings. It this story they took humans because of their ability to weather travelling between dimension. The faeries can’t do it, having to project their consciousness into hosts in other dimensions.
Then they get the idea of turning a human into a vessel for them. It doesn’t go well, causing a disaster which break a number of dimensions. Travel between them is now dangerous, the faeries’ homeland may not have survived, and the creatures which do now make it through tend not to be as beneficent as those which used to travel to Earth, being twisted by the disaster.
There’s also the humans the faeries took away, using them to colonise other dimensions. This is part of the back story for the world of Blade Sworn, although it’s only touched on in that book. It could easily allow me to link the other fantasy worlds if I want.
One of the main ideas of the book is my view of metaphysics and life: we’re all one life form. There’s no point at which the cells from our parent which form us aren’t alive, so there’s a continuity of life. We appear to be separate because we view the world three dimensionally, while living in four (taking time to be a fourth dimension for the purposes of this argument). It’d be like looking at a two dimensional cross-section of a tree, where all the branches appear to be separate.
Viewing our species as a single life form in this way opens up the possibilities of how to explain things like telepathy, déjà vu, precognition, and past lives (non-local correlations imply time isn’t necessarily a barrier on some levels). It also adds to the question of the existence of the soul whether they’d be individual souls, or a shared soul, but that can wait for a sequel.