Writer of Horror Fiction

Review of Martin Berman-Gorvine’s “Judgement Day”

Judgment Day is the fourth and final installment in the Days of Atonement series by Martin Berman-Gorvine.  The book separates itself from the three previous books by a substantial distance in years and geography.  The main characters: Amos, Suzie, and Vicky, are now in their forties and living far to the south of their old hometown of Chatham’s Forge, on an island in Maryland, where they are somewhat removed from the newest god to take over up north, Ba’al, and his High Priestess, Cindy, who seeks revenge against the Israel clan, which Amos’s band is now called.  While Amos is the Headman, or leader, of this band that lives peacefully except for the occasional assaults by the punks that have followed them south, it is Vicky who has taken on the role of Rabbi and devoted follower of the Jewish God Amos’s family secretly believed in back in Chatham’s Forge when Moloch was the god in charge.  The trio have formed a somewhat awkward family unit, with Amos married to both women and producing a large blended family.  While he is admired and respected by the small community of more than a hundred refugees that have joined them over the years, Amos still retains the wishy washy and indecisive nature that has not only frustrated the women in his life, but this reviewer as well.  He is a good man, but he struggles to make decisions and be an assertive leader, allowing one of his wives and a son to dominate their community with less violent, but similar rigid ritualistic expectations put upon the followers of the barbaric gods of the north.

While the group has been at peace for years, Cindy and Ba’al are prepared to get their vengeance against the Israel clan.  At the same time, Vicky has become convinced that the Jewish God has taken physical form and their much smaller group is destined to go to war with the demonic gods, like Ba’al and Mote, the god of death.  Amos struggles to keep his two families and two wives, who have been at odds with one another all these years, at peace and their community whole.  It’s clear that is a failing effort, and war is coming.

This is a fitting, and somewhat surprising, ending to this series.  I had my doubts as to how the author could effectively end this tale, given the direction it has been heading and with the world filled with so many dark and demonic gods, ghosts, and only hints of the benevolent, if somewhat absent deity of the Jewish faith.  I felt satisfied in the end-that the author didn’t use a (pardon the use of the term) deus ex machina to bring things to a conclusion, as it were.  The ending fits and while this alternate universe can seem somewhat baffling at times, it has its own logic to it, and the characters who survive are not left with easy answers or solutions to their lifelong problems.

While the big picture story of this series deals with a hell-wrapped apocalyptic world, the real story is more personal, dealing with the conflicts that face the challenging love triangle Amos, Suzie, and Vicky been a part of since their high school days came to an end.  It is hard to say that any one of them is a hero or a villain in this piece.  Instead, they are just three humans that have tried, and often failed, to do the right things for themselves and those they care about.  This is not a tale of redemption or vindication for any one of them.  It is a tale of realization-understanding who you are (for better or worse) and that while this particular story may end, the greater story continues to unfold endlessly into the future.  Whether that is frustrating, or satisfying, is perhaps all in how you look at it.  For me, this series was both frustrating and satisfying, like the characters, and like life itself.  It is the same whether you live in the ‘normal’ world or (apparently) in a demon and ghost-infested post nuclear apocalyptic world.

Judgment Day can be found here:    https://www.amazon.com/Judgment-Days-Ascension-Martin-Berman-Gorvine/dp/1609752430/

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