Craig Stewart’s Worship Me is a roller-coaster ride into the dark heart of human nature, one which will leave an indelible imprint on the reader’s mind. The novel’s true strength lies in its depiction of the human animal – its hopes, its fears, its weaknesses. It cannot be overstated how challenging it is for a writer to generate a rich community of authentic characters – the nuance of interpersonal relationships being a particularly delicate dance. Stewart lets none of the difficulty show here, artfully rendering a group of diverse and complex personalities.
Stewart achieves a remarkable effect in portraying an emotionally charged environment: a church transformed into a hellish, supernatural prison, full of hatred, atrocity, mutilation, degradation, abomination, etc… A hallowed place of comfort and serenity turned upside down. Stewart has shown himself to be a skilled practitioner of mood, tone, and style. We begin with an air of familiarity, of family, tradition, and community – then Stewart cranks up the horror with such subtle skill that it is upon you almost before you realize it. The pacing is wonderful, Stewart knowing exactly when to floor the gas and when to tap the brake.
Stewart crafts an evil as interesting as it is horrifying – an elemental beast, remnant of a bygone age, one who demands submission, worship, and something more.
Worship Me is well worth the read in that it reminded me of two of my favorite writers – it has the authentic tone of Stephen King coupled with the sheer imaginative power of Clive Barker. Be sure to pick up a copy.
Review by W.J. Renehan