This is one of the more thought provoking novels I have ever come across. I had to read it twice, before I could sit down and write this review! Indie author Shaun Allan has created a real masterpiece with Sin. Allan's style is narrative, and in a way, reminded me of James Joyce's equally compelling 'Finnegan's Wake'. Others have compared Allan's style to Stephen King and Dean Koontz; and there is a slight similarity to their work as in it is definitely horror, but I am here to tell you Shaun Allen is an original in the purest sense. This is "One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest meets Finnegan’s Wake."
Sin is a dark, urban fantasy, written with large dose of sardonic humor. We hear the tale from the man who was given the name 'Sin Mathews' at birth, but who goes by the name of Sin only, as the last name doesn't matter; only the name which is the sum of his parts matters.
Sin finds a coin, a two pence coin, or perhaps the coin finds him. Either way, this is the catalyst for Sin's curse. He finds himself flipping the coin compulsively -flip, catch - and it arcs through the air he sees images of disaster and death, which is then reported on the news. Eventually he realizes every time he flips the coin, someone dies; sometimes a lot of people die in what he believes are 'unnatural disasters' timed perfectly to the flip of the coin. Though he tries to avoid flipping the coin, he finds himself doing it anyway.
No matter how he tries, he can't throw it away, or lose it. The coin always comes back to him when he buys something and gets his change; or even just appearing in his pocket.
Sin receives a letter from his sister Joy, telling him she had found a coin, and when she flipped it she made lives. She wrote that the responsibility for making the world happy was too much for her. She was alone in world of happiness she couldn't be a part of, and she killed herself. Sin apparently had found his coin right after her death. He decides to check himself into an insane asylum in order to get the sort of psychotropic drugs which will render him incapable of seeing the visions, and flipping the coin.
Sin's conversations with Dr. Connors in the opening chapter are adversarial, and illuminating. For the most part, he enjoys his stay in the asylum, but, being sane, he sees the sordid truth in the callous treatment and chronic over-medication of the patients.
Although posing as a mentally ill patient works for a while, the medications soon cease to be effective and he decides that since the coin always comes back to him as if by magic, maybe he has the power to teleport. He resolves to commit suicide by teleporting himself into the heart of a furnace, hoping for instant incineration. Unfortunately, he finds himself on a beach, instead of in Hell where he had hoped to be.
Sin has an encounter with Joy who tells him death is not what it is cracked up to be. She warns him "a storm is coming". He continues his inadvertent journey, trying to get his bearings. After a chance meeting which reveals more of his powers, he finds himself in Grimsby, the home of his childhood.
The atmosphere throughout is surrealistic, but it is well-balanced Allen's lyrical, intimate style of prose, as in this series of images describing Sin's disorientation, “History doesn’t relate whether Jonah, Gepetto, and Pinocchio sat around a table eating pizza, sharing stories of prophecy and puppetry while in the belly of the whale, but I thought that I could relate to being swallowed whole.”
Throughout the novel, Sin's ruminations are self-mocking, and world-weary, yet naive and innocent. He bears the guilt of the world, and suffers the unbearable pain of being the cause of so many deaths, but still he finds ironic humor in every situation. Joy is grounded and guides him to the truth, but is not allowed to tell him anything.
Nothing is what it seems in this tale, and right up to the end, you are not sure which reality is real.
The facts come out, or do they? This book is a rollercoaster ride from the start to the finish, and I give it 5 stars for originality.