Children of Chaos by Greg Gifune

(No Series)

In a torrential downpour, Phil, Jamie and Martin—three teenage boys—encounter a strange and enigmatic man covered in horrible scars who will change their lives, their destinies and the very fate of their souls forever. When their encounter mistakenly leads to murder, they realize this eerie stranger may not have been a man at all, but something much more…

Thirty years later the boys—now men—lead tormented lives filled with horrifying memories of the scarred man and what they did all those years ago in the rain. Phil is a struggling writer, divorced, with a daughter and a mounting drinking problem. Jamie is a defrocked priest with depraved secrets and horrible addictions, and Martin, a madman who thinks himself a god, has vanished into a desolate desert region of Mexico and established a feared and violent blood cult. When Martin’s dying mother hires Phil to find her son and bring him home, Phil embarks on a perilous journey that will take him from the seedy streets of Tijuana, to a dangerous and allegedly haunted stretch of desert Mexican road known as The Corridor of Demons. At the end of the road, in an old and previously abandoned church, Martin and his followers wait in the Hell-on-Earth they’ve created deep in the desert. There will be only one chance for redemption, one chance for salvation, and one chance to stop the rise of an antichrist’s bloody quest for demonic power.

From the void, came chaos. These are its children.

“I’ve spent my entire life looking over my shoulder. It ruined us, that night. It destroyed all three of us.”

Children of Chaos was my introduction to Greg Gifune's writing. After this book, I'm already ready for more of the author's work. With a writing style that is poetic and haunting, I loved how the backward glances to the past mixed in so effortlessly with the disaster of the present. The flashbacks to what happened on ""that night"" that changed their lives forever was powerful and perfectly composed.

Rich in despair, Children of Chaos is a bleak example of lives truly destroyed. The depressing ambience is relentless, but instead of just fogging me down unnecessarily, it enriched the colorful story-line that is both surreal and unique. It can be a refresher to be in the main character's head when they're a mess, particularly when it's not angsty or silly just for the sake of cheesy emotional manipulation.. There's genuine pain coating these pages.

The flawed characters aren't necessarily nice guys, but Gifune managed to make me genuinely care. I gasped in dismay at the death of two, as awful as those deaths were, and it sunk me. Applause to the author for making me get so emotionally tied to the characters that came alive so forcefully. In fact, some of character deaths affected me so strongly that it slightly weakened my enjoyment of the book.

Going from a seedy apartment in America to a dangerous area of Mexico added oomph to the story, but ultimately it was in the heart of the desert that the claustrophobic pressure increased. Gifune doesn't dig into the destination quickly, instead going through the motions at a semi-sedate pace, but it never grew dull. The ending is a twisted, sick finale that truly disturbed. Excellent, but seriously dark story.

   Book Quotes:

“None of us are ever far from death. Try as we might to convince ourselves otherwise, our vulnerability is profound and intrinsic, our time on this Earth borrowed, fleeting.”