By: J.R. Klein
Publisher: Del Gato Press
Publication Date: April 2020
Reviewed By: Amy Lignor
Right off the bat with this fantastic story, I felt like I was home again. In my youth, there was a private, high-brow college set in a small, quaint village in the state of Connecticut. Although it was as hoity-toity as they come, the large stone buildings made it seem ominous as you drove by it; it looked more like the front of Shawshank Prison than a school for the elite. In this mystery, that sent chills up and down my spine, the setting is a quaint village in the state of Vermont. In this rural community of Covington, not much happens. In fact, the only thing that even brings outsiders into the town is Graebner College.
Now, something is wrong inside the ornate and somewhat frightening walls of Graebner, and as readers see with their own eyes these strange sights one by one, the foreboding sense of “something” coming grows intense. You see, Graebner was not always a college; two centuries ago it was the home of the Schulenmeister Theological Seminary. When it was the seminary, local folklore talks about the “satanic worship” that occurred there. They describe the place as being the home to boys who were being trained to go out and preach the Gospel. But unexplained illnesses hit the seminary and the town; there are stories still circulated about the boys’ experiencing hallucinations, coughing up blood, etc. Even the local farmers blamed the place for various deaths and ended up hanging a group of the faculty members on the front lawn of the campus long ago. Well, now we are in the present. Any old ghost stories should be gone now…right?
Meet Nick and Katy; current students of Graebner. Nick Sanchez is unlike a lot of the “silver spoon” kids that go to college here. The son of Mexican immigrants, Nick came to Graebner on a full scholarship because he was able to graduate top-of-his-class from high school. Nick is a senior and looking at his next step being medical school. Katy Malone, now a sophomore, is the exact opposite. She was raised in the ritzy suburb of Chicago, has never experienced the “rough” patches of life, and is praised for being fun, charming, and crafty, to say the least.
This evening, Nick and Katy are in the library at Graebner to open up a hidden door leading to a secret passage that they discovered. Logical thinking tells them that this strange passageway was used by the seminary long ago, but when they enter into this dark portal, they discover that the place has been used much more recently. As the author walks readers through this scene, he’s so good with words that you see the smooth flagstones, worn over time by the marching of students, underneath Katy and Nick’s feet. You see the Byzantine arch just wide enough for seminary students to walk through as they march to their classes. You also swallow hard when you come upon the bone-dry skull sitting atop a pole, a stone plaque quoting Genesis (Death is Life), and the ceremonial altar with a black wood cross dangling upside down above it.
This place has something to do with The Code. Dating back to the time of the Illuminati, this is a powerful process that can be conducted only two nights a month during the quarter moons. But even though this Code has been around for a while, it seems that it still goes on to this day. It’s not exactly a secret: A very rich donor to the college, his strange and eerie assistant who has read up on all the history of the seminary and this process, and even the president of Graebner, Clara Parker, are aware of what’s going on in the present; although Ms. Parker would rather not know everything her largest donor is doing. She’s just happy it’s raising vast sums of money for the college coffers. But will not knowing the facts end Clara’s life? We shall see.
I can’t tell you how much I really want to tell you about this incredible book. All I can say, without giving away some seriously cool plot points, is that you have to read this book. For those who read this author’s psychological thriller, The Ostermann House, and could barely breathe because of the excitement, The Code runs neck and neck with that one.
Quill says: You have got to read to believe. I guarantee, you’ll never look at those quaint New England villages in the same way ever again! 5 Stars!!
For more information on The Code, please visit the author's website at: johnrklein.com