Tuesday, November 5, 2013


by Robert McCammon
296 pgs

In the Old Testament the Prophet Elijah demonstrated the impotence of the god Baal by having the priests of Baal build an altar of wood to their god and call on him to ignite it himself. When nothing happened, Elijah built an altar to the true God, dowsed it repeatedly with water and then called on the Lord to do what Baal had been unable to accomplish. In Baal, Robert McCammon creates a character that is anything but powerless, and he places him in the modern world.

Baal begins with a woman leaving her job as a waitress at a diner to walk to the bus stop. Before she gets there she's attacked by a man who rapes her. That "man" leave her with first- and second-degree hand prints burned into her skin anywhere he touched her. He also leaves her expecting a child. The child, who she tricks her husband into believing is his, is born nine months later and is unlike any other child ever born. He's disturbingly quiet and eerily aware of the world around him. They name him Jeffrey, but he will eventually go by his true name of Baal.

Baal ends up at a Catholic orphanage where he grows into his full powers, destroying all who oppose him and selecting his first followers from the other children there. From there he begins his ultimate quest of revenge and power.

Written in 1978, Baal was both McCammon's first book written and published. McCammon himself has acknowledged that it and his other earlier books are not his finest work and that they represent an author learning how to write. I'd agree with his self-assessment. Baal is nowhere near the same level  the books he's writing today are at. His Matthew Corbett series and books like The Five and Boy's Life are fantastic. But I'll still be going back to read all of his earlier books. I'll just be doing so with different expectations. It'll be interesting to see how he's progressed as a writer.

★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

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