Will McClinton’s Lineage: The Descendants is an ambitious supernatural thriller drawing from millennia of world history and religion. The central characters, stepbrothers Marc and Camel, are college students from a wealthy French-Arab family. They are defined by privilege and immaturity — man-children whose interests rarely stray from their next sexual conquest. Ultimately, that debauchery threatens to be their undoing.
Unfortunately for the brothers, the sorority sisters they are involved with are no ordinary co-eds, but a coven of sinister witches. As their sexual encounters grow more addictive, people around them start to pay the price. If Marc is going to save his friends and family (not to mention himself), he must learn the dark, forgotten truth about his ancestors.
McClinton writes with the authority of extensive research. The Muslim characters are depicted without stereotype; French history is woven organically into the narrative, and even the medical details are credible. The characters and events are less compelling: endless parties brimming with over-privileged college students (think Bret Easton Ellis) and protagonists too gullible to stop falling for femmes fatales and too unreasonably skeptical to see the supernatural threat before them. There are other characters beyond the vixens and victims, some memorable (a sanctimonious housekeeper and her Cinderella-like niece, an ambivalent demon) and some that appear significant, only to be forgotten by the end of the story.
The prose is problematic. There are more fragments than sentences, few commas and confusing shifts without warning from first person perspective to third person and an odd way of punctuating dialogue (“Marc, ‘What are you doing?’ “). The reader’s efforts still are partially rewarded — the subject matter is compelling, and the plot remarkably intricate. Unfortunately, in the end we are left with a cliffhanger that resolves virtually none of the tension the author has worked so hard to build.
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