The Grail Conspiracy

May 29, 2009
By Dave Sukharan BRONZE, Brooklyn Park, Minnesota
Dave Sukharan BRONZE, Brooklyn Park, Minnesota
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The Grail Conspiracy
WARNING: This book is not meant for those who are unable to or strongly dislike: gasping, going spontaneously slack-jawed, having your heart race for extended periods of reading, and/or slapping yourself in the forehead on multiple occasions for not realizing something like “that one guy that lived next door was evil in the first place”.
Thank You

The Holy Grail is an object sought after by armies, revered by millions and blessed with the blood of Christ himself. Then, to end all the struggles and bloodshed for its possession, it’s found… by a news reporter?! This strange and intriguing twist to one of the biggest religious legacies of all time is told in The Grail Conspiracy; a 343 page novel published by Hewllyn Publishers and written by Lynn Sholes. I loved this book for its mind-bending, brain-twisting, eye-brow raising plot which never failed to surprise me at least once per chapter. Its pages are like a maze; every time you think you’ve got it figured out the story takes an unexpected twist leaving the ending shrouded in alluring secrecy. This story will show what happens when an object that began wars and made kings is found by modern man.

Right away the story kicks off telling about a fiery reporter’s trip to the even fierier country of Iraq. The wittily wry and feisty Cotton Stone is an average journalist who decided that she really wanted the story on the war in Iraq. What she gets is the adventure of a lifetime. Her quest begins when, while hitch-hiking through the desert, she stumbles onto an almost cliché spot for the start of a mystery- an archeological dig site. Here Cotton stumbles onto the director of the project- an old man by the name of Gabriel Archer. Suddenly, her whole world is thrown into chaos when a man tries to murder the old curator and, in the attempt, both murderer and victim die. To add to Cotton’s incredible streak of bad luck, the old man uses the last of his strength to entrust her with a seemingly useless box- even if it does seem worthless the gift of an old and dying man is not something you can take lightly. He then uses his final breath to pass on a mysterious message;”Geh el Crip” stop the Sun, the Dawn. Most would just dismiss this as a dying man’s nonsense… there’s just one problem. The message was in a different language, a language known only by Cotton and her dead twin sister. Then, to top it all off, in her frantic attempts to flee the site Cotton leaves a very incriminating piece of evidence behind. A piece of evidence that sets Cotten on a mad dash for the safety that always seems to elude her. From the Pope himself to her own blood relatives there seems to be no one she can trust with the contents of the precious box- which, surprisingly, turns out to be the the Holy Grail. The only companion in this chaos is, ironically, a priest named John Tyler who is intensely funny in a refreshing, priestly way. The two shell-shocked protagonists are linked by bonds of destiny that they never could have imagined. Everywhere they turn enemies seem to spring up, like a haunted house you just can’t get out of. These enemies range from a megalomaniacal geneticist to the very Devil himself- because everybody likes a little variety in their story-book baddies. Even more disturbing is than the twin terrors is Archer’s mysterious message. Delivered again and again, appearing in places totally unexpected and unexplainable. With each repetition adding to its commanding mystery and setting off another chain of events to catch Cotton up in its tide. All through her panicked flight two questions ring through Cotton’s head: who could be behind all of this and, more importantly, “What in Christ’s name am I supposed to do about it?”
This book takes a classic tale and makes it even better than before- a feat that is nearly impossible. Combining modern civilization with mythological creations is like trying to mix cereal with toothpaste. Yet Lynn Sholes has done just that, and I ate it up! Her writing placed the ancient Holy Grail in a world of subways and cell phones but in a shockingly realistic way. She takes an everyday average person and sends her on a seemingly impossible mission. This combination creates a tale so incredible that you couldn’t stop reading it even if you tried. The plot was like a huge puzzle, each piece fitting together perfectly in ways you couldn’t have anticipated at the beginning. The most shocking pieces were the secrets that Cotton’s twin sister and uncle hid. First they made me gasp and then all I could do was shake my head as I was struck-dumb simply by how much sense it made. Sholes’ writing made you want to jump into the text and help put the pieces together yourself. The fact that you, as a reader, could find were told what the bad guys were planning before it happened to Cotton put you into a position where it was like you were looking down at the story from a great height. It gave you the ability to see what was going to happen but, when you see things like assassination attempts on Cotton’s best friend ahead, all you could do was shout yourself hoarse trying to warn them and wish they could actually hear you through the pages. The best part about this book was its sheer unpredictability. The maze of its plot gives you small glimpses of the goal, the light at the end of the tunnel, before it twists unexpectedly until you’re sprinting through it and trying your hardest to get to the end while the characters run right beside you. It made me feel like I was in a contest to piece together the whole mystery before the book told me- like I was a toddler trying to dress myself but before my mother had to do it for me.

All in all, the story is a roller coaster of suspenseful rises and steep heart-racing drops. It left me with a sense that anyone, no matter how small, can accomplish something. Through the book the characters both shocked and connected with you allowing you to feel their sorrows and triumphs in a way that let your imagination run free. It caught you up in a storm that you couldn’t escape. All while you’re cheering on the brave heroine on and wondering what part of her name Cotton Stone will live up to. Will she give up and be as soft as cotton or live up to her destiny with a will as hard as stone?

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This article has 1 comment.

JoeMoore said...
on Jul. 30 2012 at 9:05 am
Dave, thanks for the terrific review. Glad you enjoyed it.
Joe Moore

Parkland Book