PrintE-mail Written by Ian White

When his wife and unborn child died, Edward Schwinn’s life was destroyed. Now he’s a reclusive alcoholic, living in a caravan with only his dog Argus for company.

But everything changes when he discovers the accident on a lonely mountain road – a convoy, which appears to have been smashed by an unseen hand, with everybody dead, except a pregnant woman who is the doppelganger of his deceased wife. When Edward rescues the woman from the wreckage, and assists in a birth that involves the violent deaths of several more people, his whole life changes. The woman makes him a promise that, whatever happens, he will never abandon the child. Her name is Piper, and even though the mother dies before she can tell him anything more, Edward slowly begins to suspect the little girl possesses some terrifying supernatural powers. Maybe, even, the power to save or annihilate the human race.

Edward keeps his promise and raises Piper as his own but, as Piper grows older, he realises they are being hunted by sophisticated assassins, and that a ruthless alien menace is intent on destroying the child before she can understand and fulfil her destiny. With her sixteenth birthday rapidly approaching, the enemy forces growing stronger and more insidious, and with a sinister entity called Morrighan directing her every move, Piper knows that time is running out. But will she be a saviour or a sacrifice, and is she the ultimate good or the ultimate evil?

It’s hard to write a compelling synopsis of Stephen Lloyd Jones’ excellent new novel without giving some important plot points away, and this is a wonderful feat of imagination that you really have to approach spoiler-free. The Disciple is epic in every sense of the word, with a story that ducks and dives through apocalypse theory, Celtic gods, ancient alien contact and – very slyly – with diabolical possession, but always with a very human heart at its centre: the bond between Piper and her surrogate father is palpable, and beautifully raises the stakes when the novel reaches its ferocious and masterful climax. But what makes The Disciple especially impressive is the spell cast by Lloyd Jones’ writing. He uses words like a magician, conjuring visions inside the reader’s head, terrifying and tantalising us with potent images, ideas and characters that won’t easily be forgotten. The Disciple is very, very special indeed. Don’t miss it.


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