This is a behemoth of a horror novel by Dan Simmons, enjoying a little renaissance right now as the creator of The Terror and he’s a bit of a genre-jumping writer working in horror, science fiction, historical fiction (usually with a twist), and mystery.
This novel starts in a concentration camp during WWII when we meet Saul Lasky, a Polish Jew, confronting his greatest terror, a Nazi commandant her refers to as The Oberst. We then jump shockingly and jarringly into the first person narration of a southern woman from Georgia some 35 years later telling us about her long friendship with “Willy” and her other friends, who play a kind of game.
What we find out is that there’s a race of soul-destroying telepaths, whose abilities allow them to control and sap the strength of regular humans, which grants them a kind of invulnerability and long life. Saul, now a renowned psychiatrist, Bobby Gentry, a Southern sheriff, and Natalie Preston, a woman who watches her father killed by one of the telepaths, becomes an unlikely trio fighting against an untold number of these beings. The beings themselves have also aligned themselves into different factions and are warring among themselves, as well.
I don’t read a lot of horror novels outside of Stephen King, and I’ve read a few Dan Simmons novels before. We jumped from a few different third person accounts (locking into the mindset of a character ala Game of Thrones and then get the first person narration of Nina), and this has a curious effect on the novel. It’s giant, some 900 pages or so, and you feel it. It mostly doesn’t drag, but this was an audiobook, so it’s less clear on that. Other than some very uncomfortable ventriloquizing of black characters, I thought was quite successful as a novel.