Author Stephen Paul Sayers, who divides his time between Plymouth and Columbia, Missouri, has written “The Immortal Force,” the third novel in his Caretakers series.
The book, released by Hydra Publications in November, is the sequel to “A Taker of ‘Morrows” and “The Soul Dweller.”
Mr. Sayers, who spent his summers in Falmouth, set much of his first novel in Falmouth, Chatham and Boston, while much of the second book is set in 1940s Plymouth. Mr. Sayers returns to Chatham for his new book.
Like its two predecessors, “The Immortal Force” is a fast-paced supernatural thriller that blurs the lines between this world and what comes after. For lack of a better description, RG and Kacey are a husband and wife team of supernatural crime fighters tasked with trying to thwart jumpers—evil souls that can inhabit and control the bodies of the living.
In “The Immortal Force” RG and Kacey must stop a jumper who has managed to reanimate his own dead body before he can learn the secret of immortality and provide a link for the dead to reenter the world.
What makes Mr. Sayers’s novels so compelling is his knack for creating complex secondary characters and developing relationships beyond the simply boy/girl variety. In this novel he continues evolving the character of detective Mike Stahl, who was introduced in the first book. The book continues to look at his relationship between Mike and his wife and stepson, as well as with his new partner, Chris Daniels. The author also examines the bond between Mr. Daniels and his younger sister, Ellie. “Relationships have been a strong theme in all the books,” Mr. Sayers said. “I think this leads the reader to question, as the characters must do, what they would be willing to sacrifice for the ones they love.”
Lest you think the book is about little more than fuzzy family connections, Mr. Sayers manages to thread his more-sensitive narratives into a story that includes a high body count and an antagonist lumbering about in a dead body that is decomposing gradually. His graphic scenes of blood and gore are as skillfully written and as vivid as his passages of the more-relatable variety.
Mr. Sayers does a nice job of portraying Chatham as a hotbed of unrest among the undead. His descriptions of luxury homes built by new money contrast with the less-ostentatious homes of the townies. The Pancake Man restaurant is back, serving up nostalgia and providing a portal to worlds beyond.
As in his first two books Mr. Sayers’s level of character development extends even to his villains. While the book’s antagonist, Alex Sarnie, is most definitely despicable, his backstory provides some level of sympathy for his character and circumstances.
As the book progresses RG and Kasey grapple with whether or not the rest of the world should know about the existence of caretakers and jumpers, another detail that brings complexity to their characters.
Mr. Sayers describes “The Immortal Force” as two books weaved into one with one story line focusing on RG and Kacey, and another on Mike Stahl. As such, it took longer to write than his two previous books. “It required a little more thinking and planning to have the stories intersect at various points and reach a satisfying conclusion,” he said.
Writing a sequel, Mr. Sayers said, can be both quicker because the author already have a ready-made set of characters, and slower because the author doesn’t want to repeat what’s been done in previous books. “I would say even though I had my characters set after ‘A Taker of Morrows,’ ‘The Soul Dweller’ and ‘The Immortal Force’ took longer because a unique and fresh story line became the critical focus,” he said.
Another concern for Mr. Sayers was the idea of living up to the first two novels. “I felt there was significant advancement from ‘A Taker of Morrows’ to ‘The Soul Dweller’ in terms of story line and intensity,” Mr Sayers said. “The pressure of making the final book even better than the first two weighed on me.”
From a personal standpoint Mr. Sayers said the most appealing part of writing this third book was revisiting his characters. “They are like your children,” he said, “and when you advance their stories or see them in new adventures, it is very satisfying.”
It’s likely that “The Immortal Force” will be the final book in the Caretakers series. “Never say never, but I think by the end of ‘The Immortal Force,’ the story had reached an interesting stopping point,” Mr. Sayers said.
While a supernatural horror novel might not seem like the setting to look for a meaningful takeaway message, the Caretaker series has one. In addition to entreating reader to examine their own personal relationships, the books suggest that it is important not to dwell on anger and vengeance. “If these books show anything,” Mr. Sayers said, “it is that we will pay an eternal price for the darkness we carry in our souls.”
For future projects Mr. Sayers said he’s working on a supernatural thriller that revolves around real life event from the 1930s. “The book will be told from the perspective of three characters that lived through that event, but 25 years later. So, the story is actually set in the 1960s.”
“Thee Immortal Force” is available locally at Eight Cousins Books in Falmouth.