Sent to me by Ed Public Relations in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: 07/09/17
Publisher: Red Opera
Format: Paperback, 524pp
Summed up in a word: Revenge
Welcome to my stop on the Scorn Blog Tour hosted by EDPR. I appreciate the opportunity to share my thoughts on Scorn, it is an unusual novel but I had a blast reading it.
When I first sat down to read Scorn, I was a tad perplexed. I had no idea what to expect from within but after opening it at two random pages and finding an epic war scene (complete with RPGs) and an ideological debate between a werewolf and Tony Blair… I knew this was going to be a remarkable read.
Scorn is a huge novel that is fundamentally a story of revenge by a scientist-turned-werewolf who suffered at the hands of the Catholic Faith. This is certainly the biggest and chaotic story of retribution that I have ever read. Full review below.
Official Book Synopsis
From the incredible mind of Paul Hoffman, author of the bestselling The Left Hand of God trilogy comes a sharply intelligent and darkly funny Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde story for the 21st Century.
Raised by violence in a Catholic boarding school, depressed physicist Aaron Gall lives a life of misery anchored by his painful childhood memories. But when an accident at the Large Hadron Collider opens a miniature black hole in his brain, Aaron’s life is utterly transformed. Suddenly filled with a new zest for life, he finds himself inspired to embark on a new form of therapy – to track down the priests who caused him so much childhood trauma, and to talk to them about the effect they had on his life. And then eat them.
Told from the perspectives of both murderer, and the two detectives tasked with bringing him to justice, Scorn is a bold and sharp look at modern society filled with tragedy, pitch-black humour, and gripping revenge. A novel like no other, it pulls no punches and delivers an outstanding set of shocking twists alongside laugh-out-loud comedy.
Scorn is definitely one of those reads that you won’t forget long time after you have read it. With its bold statement and crazy concepts, I was blown away by the intensity between these pages. Following Aaron Gall, a scientist who is transformed into a werewolf during an incident at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland. This impossible event leaves Aaron with the ability to turn into a nightmarish werewolf at will (for reasons that aren’t entirely clear, just the word Transmogrification thrown in for good measure), and he develops a insatiable hunger for revenge and justice. Having suffered at the hands of the those who raised him within the Catholic Faith, Aaron is looking for retribution.
Scorn dives into the dark history of Catholicism, their ancient history, their decisions during key historical tragedies and the recent abuse scandal that rocked the world to its core. Aaron’s mission may be personal but he has the weight of those who suffered due to Faith behind him. Aaron is on a mission to kill those responsible for his own personal suffering and also those who let it happen. After his mission begins Aaron realises he won’t stop until he reaches the top of the hierarchy, The Holy Father himself.
Scorn also follows Metropolitan Police officers Scrope and Lister who are assigned to catch a murderous psychopath who is tearing his victims limb from limb. The killer is leaving clues for the detectives, hints that reveal his next victims, his mission and his identity. Scrope and Lister must keep ahead of the game, rushing from scene to scene, figuring out the cryptic messages and catch this monster. Not wanting to face the fact that they may be facing a horror worse than their tours in Iraq, they are struggling to keep their focus on rationality.
There is so much going on in Scorn that it is hard to put it all into words. Well Hoffman did but it took him 524 pages so it is certainly a complex story to describe. Luckily for the reader, Hoffman keeps the general tone of the novel upbeat and facetious but I felt that Hoffman’s writing was not as accessible as I would have wanted it to be. His writing is a definitely interesting and enjoyable with a intriguing blend of surrealism, witticism, bluntness and humour. But his description and explanation of events surrounding both Aaron (and his abilities) and the Catholic Faith (and their failures) seems rushed and over-complicated at times. The story is narrated by an ‘secret overseer’ who talks directly to the reader at times which I thought was an interesting touch.
My favourite part of this novel has to be Scrope and Lister. I enjoyed their stories, dynamics and their manic chase to catch up with Aaron the werewolf. They are intellectual, war hardened and flawed. Both fighting an image problem within the Met Police and their own pasts concerning the Catholic Faith, they are brilliant characters and made this novel immensely readable. I did appreciate Aaron’s story. No child should suffer at the hands of an adult in any form (the concept of Soul Murder broke my heart) and Aaron is using his new curse (or blessing..?) to confront his misery and get past the existential crisis he has been fighting his whole life. It is fundamentally a honourable crusade but the insanity of his story was probably just a tad too much for me to handle. Especially the ending, you have to read it to believe it 😀
Hoffman really tears into the Catholic Faith in Scorn. The narrative is peppered with quotes from hundreds of sources. Quotes to do with the abuse scandal. Quotes concerning their leadership choices. Quotes that focus on their failures and cover-ups. It is certainly shocking and it is clear that Hoffman wanted to face this subject head on. There is nothing subtle about his writing and I applaud that, Hoffman doesn’t play it safe one bit and I found that admirable. There are problems with this novel as I stated above. Inaccessible writing, difficult themes and insufficient elaboration left me scratching my head or frustrated. That said, the overall novel experience was an unforgettable one and I am glad to have read this story. I was pleasantly caught up in the absurdity of it all (including the little cartoons that appear amongst the pages) and despite the dark heart of the book, I enjoyed my time reading Hoffman’s work.
Overall I have given Scorn 3.5/5 stars because it is a good novel that explores some brilliant characters, ideas and concepts. I recommend Scorn to all readers who would enjoy an outlandish tale of revenge that is aimed at one of the biggest institutions in the world.
About Paul Hoffman
Paul Hoffman is the son of Irish immigrants and was born in a house lacking running water or electricity. He spent six years detained without trial in a Catholic boarding school. His previous novels include The Wisdom of Crocodiles in which he predicted the collapse of the financial system, The Golden Age of Censorship, a black comedy based on his experience as a film censor, and the bestselling The Left Hand of God trilogy, which anticipated the rise of ISIS and has been translated into thirty languages.