"Cigarette Teeth" by Maul Allan Hewish

"In the grimy midnight world of the Australian suburbs, there are those who serve an unseen, wish-granting force that watches from a sub-spatial realm. A force known primarily as 'The Magician.' Mike Hadley is an Executive in The Magician's mysterious collective; a man with no past and no direction. A phone call at the end of every day wipes his memory clean. When a job goes bad, Mike is left for dead by his partner Tommy, and an opportunistic fugitive, Harper Ivey, rescues Mike - hoping to use him as a means to hit back at the organisation responsible for the disappearance of his sister. Without his daily phone call – Mike gradually recovers his haunted past in his dreams; discovering a bizarre world of dark science bordering on the supernatural: bio-organic broadcast nodes; flesh farms; psychic machines, and an enterprising businessman who just might have a way to truly fight the darkness lingering at the threshold – if he can be trusted..."

(Click the image above to get your own copy from Amazon!)

(This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review)

In this day-and-age, everyone is willing to do anything to get what they want. People leave their morals and values behind at the drop of a hat. Partly, because of this, mental illness is at an all-time high and happiness is at an all-time low.

What if I told you there was a phone number you could call that would give you whatever you wanted...for a simple favor in return? Enter : Cigarette Teeth. The horror novel concerns two different places that exist in our world: the Pleasure Palace, where the Magician resides in an overcast of red light where he helps make peoples' 'dreams' come true, and our reality - - - the world as we've grown to know it.

Our main character, Mike Hadley, can't remember his past or how he ended up working for the Magician, but he's more than happy to do what he's told in Cigarette Teeth. Some things seem familiar to him, like his working partner, Tommy; but if you asked him what he did last night for the Magician, he wouldn't be able to tell you or remember it himself. Harper, a man Hadley meets early on in the story, who is the stereo-typical hardened detective, tells Hadley that he knows that the Pleasure Palace has been the cause of hundreds of disappearances - - - including Harper's own brother and sister- - - and demands that Hadley help him get into the Palace to find them.

Hadley is kidnapped by Harper while people working for the Pleasure Palace begin to come after them, trying to kill them. Unlike Hadley, Harper has done a lot of detective work on the Pleasure Palace and knows much more than he does. For Hadley, a lot of things begin to make sense and no sense at the same time, like people who work for the Pleasure Palace can't die, instead they regenerate in a very gruesome way- - - something he had never seen happen before. Now, being away from the Palace, whenever Hadley falls asleep, memories start to come back to him in the form of dreams; most of them take place in metaphorical places that slowly unwrap his tragic past to the reader.

I often found myself fascinated by the characters Hewish came up with that live in the Pleasure Palace. One being the Zipper Sisters: "Kela and and Lua Von Zipper. Conjoined twins; connected at the hip and zipped into the one gigantic pinched- leather corset. Two heads, two arms, and four legs, all sealed in an ornate, Victorian-style leather dress hemmed with black lace.

Their makeup was corpse-white, their lipstick blood red. Their eyes were shadowed with a weeping pastel green, like something from a carnival sideshow. Their 18th-century dress continued with ruffles and lacy stockings, all the colour of snow. The two pairs of shoes they wore- - - shiny little school shoes, the ones with the clasps over the top- - - completed the look. It gave these sinister twins a suggested air of innocence- - - the filthiest of lies. "

When the pair meet with the Architect of the Pleasure Palace (Horitoshi Li), the story really begins to take off. The information given to them by Li about the Magician is the real start to their journey to stop the Palace and find Harper's missing siblings, as long as they include Li in the plan.

As expected, a friend of Harper's, named Sophie, gets caught up in their journey- - - saving their lives more than once, thanks to her nursing background. Sophie felt like a filler character at first, but in the end, I think she was needed to make the story well-rounded, like her insight of psychology: "...But...it's just interesting. Did you know the second most common dream people have is about their teeth? After the 'being chased' phenomenon that usually coincides with a hallway and a door. Most notable psychologists don't really offer insight on dreams- - - the most popular consensus is that they're nothing more than cerebral static, just garbled images and words that occasionally form to make something that seems to have weight..."

Though I want to say so much more about the novel, it would give away a lot of the surprises that are hidden inside. Hewish's writing is gold; the way he describes scenes is beautifully done, but he did waste some of this talent on places where the characters weren't even there for more than a scene (and nothing really came of it). Also, Harper states one time early in the book that he has killed Hadley before... this is never explained or spoken of again. I think that was a very important part to this story, especially with how things turn out between Harper and Hadley.

There were only a few inconsistencies that are completely able to be looked over and don't ruin the novel. This is master storytelling, and I am looking very forward to more work by Hewish! I would recommend this book to fans of the show "Twin Peaks," and the video game (because I love horror video games) "Evil Within." Highly recommend!

My rating:

You can help bring more attention to this book by upvoting at Reedsy Discovery! Click here to help out!

16 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All