Paddington, London 1883
Samuel Weaver is a tabloid illustrator and reporter for The Illustrated Police News, whose sensationalist style makes him both popular with the public and hated by the authorities. Obsessed with an infamous murderer, Sibelius Darke, he will let nothing get in the way of finding the truth behind the stories.
Meanwhile another set of ghastly murders has begun, linked to Darke’s reign of terror six years earlier.
Perhaps Darke was not the terrifying killer that he was made out to be? Perhaps the real murderers are still at large in London society? And perhaps, in order to prove this, Samuel Weaver will pay the ultimate price for his obsession.
I read this book using The Pigeonhole App which is a collaborative reading platform that divides a book up into balanced chunks or ‘staves’ and releases one a day until the book is complete. Usually they’re around 30-45 minutes long each and so for those who struggle to make time for themselves, it can make finding the time to read a little easier. One of the best parts of the app though is that you can comment on the stave, and individual parts of the book as you go along, and read and reply to other readers comments too. Sometimes, as in this case, the author tags along to answer questions and reply to your comments, which adds a little something to an already innovative and fun experience.
Onto the book – Domini Mortum is a (very) gruesome murder mystery set in Victorian London and York, and centres around our protagonist, Samuel Weaver. Samuel is a character of contradiction – a terribly arrogant and self-focused young man, he is either chronically unlucky, or a potential serial killer, and even having finished the book I’m not quite sure which category he falls into. The Victorian equivalent of a crime-scene photographer, Samuel gets some kind of thrill from sketching the horrendous murder scenes he finds himself standing alongside. To give you a clue as to his character type, he’s obsessed with Sibilius Darke, a long-dead serial killer and member of the Dolorian Club, and alongside his crime-scene work, which has recently taken a surprising turn for the even more ghoulish and confusing, Samuel sets off on his own little project – to track down more information about Darke and feed his obsession.
A gothic horror that touches on Finnish mythology and ritualistic activity, this novel has a strong supernatural edge, and follows on from Holbrook’s previous novel, Memento Mori. I haven’t yet read Momento Mori and although there were characters revisited, and a few small parts of the book that I think tipped a hat to events in the previous novel, it didn’t have any dependencies that caused me confusion.
If you’re squeamish, this is not the book for you. If you can’t suspend disbelief, and don’t believe in the supernatural, this probably isn’t the book for you either. However if you want a good Victorian gothic horror, with strong characters that leave a nasty taste in your mouth, then this might just be the book to keep you company as the nights draw in…just remember to keep the light on!