The Friar’s Lantern by Greg Hickey

Rating: 4 out of 5.

4 Stars! The intrigue and in trepidation of choosing your own story novel.

Imagine if the choices you made at a later date were already predetermined?

The Friar’s Lantern is a Choose Your Adventure (CYA) style narrative. We are the protagonist deciding between two choices to create a journey with a sense of empowerment and decision-making. But does it? 

The novel begins with you volunteering in an experiment about predicting human behavior. This first choice starts here. As you enter the donut of functional MRI you are given a video to watch in the scanner. The video explains the study and ultimately gives the option of choosing two options of boxes: Box A, or box A and B, or B only. Depending on your choice there may a 1 million dollar check at stake. You will make your choice in one week. According to the past results of the study, you have already made the choice when you leave the building. Will you choose your million dollars or walk away with far less?

You find ourselves at jury duty for a murder trial. A wife gunned down at 3 am in the foyer of the house. A husband finding his wife dead, with his a failed attempt to shoot the assassin. One week later the husband wrestles a man down to the ground involved in an altercation with a woman. A gun is dropped and the husband picks up the gun. Realizing that the man on the ground is his wife’s murderer, he shoots him at point-blank. Is it murder of passion or murder in the second degree? Will you be a part of sealing the husband’s fate?

The Friar’s lantern is a very intriguing, philosophical, and scientific journey. I appreciated the intermingling of the experiment and trial as perfect parallels of the same theme. And as you choose your adventure, you wonder if your mind was made up seconds before you hit the number on the screen.

The author’s ability to convey haunting imagery is remarkable. You are taken on a tour of a the Lauterbur State University; “The broken-down building skulks in the shadow of the university’s football stadium at the far north end of this once prestigious institution” and “little islands of painted steel in a stark, asphalt ocean grid -marked by mottled and faded white lines.” The laboratory with its”wearied face shrouded by the sallow, emancipated branches of a willow tree, devoid of leaves even mow in mid-May, the tree dead or dying as its limbs sag down in despair to scratch the top of the building. 

Although the scientific aspects of the narrative are fascinating, I was intrigued by the trial from the jury selection, the opening statements, the arguments, and the deliberation. Character portrayal brought the judge, the attorneys, and some jurors to life as you interact with them lapping up the details of the trial.

The title “The Friar’s Lantern ” is a curious one but poignant. According to the free dictionary, the Friar’s lantern is “a pale green light seen over the marshy ground…electromagnetic radiation that can produce a visual sensation through a soft glass window”. The functional MRI uses a stimulus to produce diffuse light and color images on a screen. The thought that our brains secrete neurotransmitters and electrical signals even a week before we create an action suggests time travel. Hickey uses this pale light and radiation during walks along the hallway of the laboratory “The hall fluorescents crackle to life as you enter, splashing light and shadows onto the sea of green walls”. But the light may have a deeper meaning. The light seen on the unstable marshy ground may lead you into unsafe territory. Just like the decisions and paths you choose in the story.

Thank you Greg Hickey for the ARC for my reading pleasuring. My review was unsolicited by the author.

One thought on “The Friar’s Lantern by Greg Hickey

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s