#2 World’s Scariest Places (Can be read out of order)
Published 24th February 2015
My rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Actual rating of 4.5
Paris is the city of lights, renowned for it’s beauty and romance, beneath this however lies the Catacombs. A Labyrinthine collection of tunnels in various states of disrepair, which is home to six million dead. When a cataphile stumbles across a video camera deep within the catacombs where very few dare to tread for fear of getting lost, his curiosity is piqued. Collecting a small group of friends, they set out on an adventure to see if they can discover what became of the camera’s owner. What begins as a lighthearted adventure, soon turns to terror as they go deeper into the catacombs and find the evil that lives there.
The catacombs have always fascinated me and they are on my list of things to see before I die. However, unlike the characters in this book, I will only be visiting the public parts of the catacombs, I don’t think my claustrophobia could handle anything more than that.
Once again, Bates has done me proud with the amount of research he has put into the Catacombs and their history. I learned a fair few things from reading this book, and the knowledge I have gained has just deepened my fascination even more.
Our main protagonist is an American man who is living in Paris, writing a travel guide. He has plans to go back home after he is done and try to rekindle his lost relationship with his ex-girlfriend. When that is taken away from him, he ends up acquiescing to his one Paris friend’s request of going with her and a couple of others into the Catacombs, in search of what they believe to be, a missing woman. Our protagonist has never been into the Catacombs before, and neither has one other party member, his Paris friend and her friend have though. The man who found the camera is an experienced cataphile and has been creating his own map of the tunnels he has explored. The American writer is the love interest of the one female in this party, and the camera finder has harbored deep feelings for her, this creates juicy tension in the party itself which I have come to notice is a running theme for Bates. I’m not complaining, having this bit of tension really does add a little bit of meat to the story as we never know if, when the time comes, will these people help each other? Or will they leave each other to perish due to the ill will they feel.
Once again Bates has managed to really fill this story with atmosphere so thick you could cut it with a knife. Rich descriptions of the catacombs had me feeling like I was there alongside the group, breathing in the dusty air and feeling the walls closing in. I get very claustrophobic and this story really pushed the boundaries of it for me. There were a couple of scenes where I stopped breathing because the fear was real. I could feel what these characters were feeling and it is masterful! Bates is a true king when it comes to putting you in the middle of his stories and I am here for it.
The characters were well written and once again, were made all the more real because of their flaws and the human emotions that Bates is able to inject into his characters, which makes them jump off the page and stand right next to you. At times I really disliked a couple of the characters, and at other times I was rooting for them so loud in my head that I got a sore throat. Bates has the amazing ability to get the reader to really empathise with his characters, and I feel like it’s a real testament to his ability as a writer.
The story itself was incredibly well written and I did not know which way things would go. The backstory on what lives in the catacombs was so well thought out and executed, I could find no flaws in it at all. The ending climax had my heart bursting out of my chest and I just didn’t know if I could take anymore. I found the very ending of the story to be brilliant and I love what happened. It made me smile.
All in all, this was a strong story from Bates in his world’s scariest places series, it’s probably up there as my favourite if I’m honest. It was well written and executed and he did a brilliant job of bringing the catacombs to life. I wasn’t disappointed with the big bad in this one, and I was not expecting it at all so that was even better. If you love a horror that makes your breath catch in your chest, with characters that are so full of life you’d think they were standing next to you. Give this one a go.
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