Cole Webb Harter has done something very, very interesting with The Land of The Giants.
He’s woven a complex and intriguing story which kept me guessing right up until the end. He’s created characters that I had trouble putting into boxes, because they act like real human beings and not the rank-and-file occupants of many works of fiction. He’s also tackled some real world issues (see; PTSD, drug addiction and others) in a way that is both believable, respectful and grounded in reality. I greatly admire any author that can incorporate heavy real world issues into a narrative without doing so in a ghoulish or exploitative way. Cole is such an author.
On the story, though. Erzsebet Eszterhas is a seemingly retired paranormal investigator who has ventured a little too close to the sun. She is a greatly damaged person – physically, mentally and emotionally. She has a heavy conscience, likely due to the fact that she is not the only one who has been irreparably harmed by her earlier journeys into the vast unknown.
A few years go by, and right around the region of Erzsebet’s ill-fated adventure, a young child goes missing. Synchronicity stacks on synchronicity (the author uses this term skillfully and not in excess), and Erzsebet winds up right back where it all started – or ended? – for her so many years ago.
We’ve got magick, espionage, crime, and references to various aspects of paranormal lore that had me giddy with familiarity. Biblical references, literary references, dives into cryptozoology and divination and – I’ll do my best to avoid ruining anything else for you after this – Jack Parsons.
The story contains graphic content and is not bedtime reading for your little ones. Mature readers and lovers of the paranormal (both individually and overlapping) will find a lot to love here, and I’m already settling in for a second read-through.
Reading the author’s bio at the end, I was intrigued to find out that the book is actually a sequel to a 2018 short film by Harter himself. It was past time for bed, but I stayed awake for another hour and watched, from to start to finish, Erzebet and the Mystery of Iniquity. The film has a 38+ minute run time and is available on Youtube. You could watch the film and read the book in any order (I strongly recommend both) but I found I enjoyed Erzsebet and The Mystery of Iniquity more having already gotten to know the characters in Land of The Giants than I may have otherwise. We’ve all experienced the rush of seeing a literary character we love brought to life on screen for the first time, and that rush was present throughout.
I’ve coined a new term recently and I’m going to keep using it; Land of The Giants by Cole Webb Harter is a Hey Strangeness Essential. It’s fun, it’s well written and well researched, and it was crafted for the kind of people who are reading this review.
Check it out immediately.