Monday, April 09, 2007


Delon City: Book Two of the Oz Chronicles by R.W. Ridley turns up the heat on the young hero we got to know in book one of the Oz Chronicles, The Takers.

Young Oz Griffin has awoke, seemingly in the future, to find himself an adult in the office of a criminal psychologist. Oz has apparently murdered two people dear to him on the basis of the delusions he's been having. Oz believes he is still fourteen years old and has just defeated the Takers by killing their queen, only to see the more terrifying Delons take over in their place. Nothing is as it seems for Oz and he realizes he can trust noone, but hypnosis allows him to go back to his perceived past to take on the Delons and hopefully solve the mystery of 'when' he really is.

Whereas The Takers was a fairly straight forward monster-fest, and a good one to boot, Delon City is a multilayered masterpiece that takes us on a journey into what may be real or simply the machinations of a lunatic. By the end of the book, but by no means the end of the story, we have several clues to help us understand what the true reality is. And Mr. Ridley uses these clues deftly to hook the reader for book three.

Still, along the way in Delon City we find a more organized and brutal enemy in the purple, dead-eyed Delons. Oz is up against something far more sinister than ravenous beasts like the Takers, who make their own appearance in this installment. The Delons haven't simply removed every human on Earth, they've begun to assimilate them, turning them into Delons! A caste system of sorts is in play upon the Earth now, with some remaining human cows for Delon food, others as mutated outcasts called 'halfers' and the Delons themselves. Mr. Ridley is a master storyteller and continues to deliver thrills and chills abundantly as he describes a darker dimension the world has been plunged into; complete with even more twisted baddies than ever before.

  • "After nightfall, I crawled out of my window and silently guided Chubby through the yard into our neighbor's, the Drucker's, backyard. There was a time that they would have immediately stormed out of their house and ran to my mother and father, demanding that my parents punish me for trespassing on their perfect lawn of Bermuda grass. Instead, Mr. Drucker, a round little man with thinning blonde hair and thick black rimmed glasses, smiled a phony smile from his living room window as I passed. Mrs. Drucker, purple complexion, grayish hair mixed with spider legs, eyes not quite dead, stood beside him holding a live mouse by the tail. Dinner."

Mr. Ridley has the ability to build the tension in a scene to a fever-pitch, like a guitar string wound to the point of breaking at any moment.

  • "I stopped. It was a trap. My mind knew it. But is was Gordy's sister. If there was the smallest chance she could be helped, then I had to help her. I walked back up the stairs as if I were climbing the final peak on Everest. Every step was carefully calculated, and every prayer I had ever heard in my life came spewing out of my mouth uncontrollably. I stood in the upstairs hallway, eyes focused on the room above the garage. I flipped the light switch, but nothing came on. "No lights. No eyelids. No lights. No eyelids." The voice screeched throughout the house. I moved down the hallway as silently as I could, but still she heard me. She counted each step I took. "Three steps closer. Four steps closer. Here he comes. here he comes!" -- "Allie," I said. -- "He calls me Allie!" Her voice was shrill with excitement. -- "Allie Flynn." -- "Ten steps closer. Eleven steps closer. Twelve steps and at the door. He's at the door! He's at the door!" -- "Allie," I said. "Your not making this easy. I want to help you." -- "Help me, Oz Griffin. Please, help me." -- I turned the knob and let the door open slowly on its own. The room was a guest bedroom. The mattress from the bed was stacked against the window to keep out the light. 'No lights. No eyelids.' she had said. In the darkest corner of the room, directly opposite the door, I saw a silhouette of a little girl. She stood motionless. She was taller than I remember. -- "We're so hungry, Oz Griffin." -- I forced myself to move forward. The hammer was raised, cocked back, and ready to crash down on her head at any time. "Take it easy, Allie. I'm here to help." Two thirds of the way to Allie, I realized it wasn't her at all. It was a coat rack. I stood in the middle of the room, completely vulnerable. I scanned the room in every direction. My heart went from a nervous flutter to a brutal pounding. "Allie?" -- "We're so hungry." -- The voice came from above me. I jerked my head up. There, crawling on the ceiling like an insect, was Gordy's little sister. Her skinless body was fire red with patches of black. She wore a lipless grin."

Delon City is darker than its predecessor and honestly would get a PG-13 rating for intense imagery and mild language. However it never ceases to pull the reader relentlessly through its short 210 pages. The book has been well designed inside and out and if I'm not mistaken, Mr. Ridley has done all of the cover work on both books himself. I was curious about Delon City's cover, but once you get into the story details it seems the perfect choice. There are maybe ten grammatical errors in the entire novel; mostly words in place of the correct word or a few missing words. Honestly this suspenseful young adult horror story had me saying "who cares?" it's so good. This is one of those stories that perplexes me; how it didn't get published with a large publisher. My only true regret with Delon City is that it left me hanging hungrily on the last words, wishing Book Three was already available!

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