Title: He Counts Their Tears
Author: Mary Ann D’Alto
Publisher: Dog Ear Publishing
Book procurement: Received a copy from author for an honest review.
Release Date: Sep 17, 2015.
A handsome, successful, charming man. Healer. Miracle maker. Aaron Stein is all those things. Behind the benevolent façade, however, hides a monster: a destroyer of souls who lusts after power and control. Aaron plays his ruse again and again with unsuspecting women who genuinely believe that they have met their new “best friend”, their “soul mate”. Covert hypnosis, edgy trysts, psychological warfare – they’re all part of the sick game he plays “to have all the power”
…until his secret life is threatened by a series of events he never sees coming. Will his devoted cousin, Constance, succeed in protecting him, just as she has throughout his entire life? And what exactly is it that she does to protect him? Is she a murderer, or is she simply devoted to him? Are they merely cousins (possibly, once, long ago, lovers), or are they partners in crime? Did Aaron learn his evil ways from her, or was he born a psychopath? In the end, these answers will make no difference in the lives of the women who, each in turn, are charmed into becoming his victims.
He Counts Their Tears is a novel I am at two minds about. It struck a chord with me nonetheless. One of my biggest fears is people without a conscience. People unable to empathize with others and can easily overlook the pain and grief they cause for their own pleasure. I watched a documentary ages ago about serial killers, and it was the men who didn’t cry or flinch or show any emotion as they recounted their horrific exploits that scared me the most. Aaron, the main character of this novel, is such a man.
The main thing that threw me off this novel was the repetition on every page for the first half of the novel. I don’t know if it was done on purpose to somehow reiterate Aaron’s character (Aaron does mean exalted after all and he clearly enjoys exalting himself). Perhaps it was a way of showing the depth of cruelty that is constantly on his mind, or to show the vulnerability of his victims and how he was able to lead them on. Either way, it made the whole first half quite annoying. I mean, if it was explained earlier why he’d done and said something, or why he hated a particular thing or attribute, repeating it again a couple paragraphs later, and then again later… and then again from the perspective of the woman, was aggravating. I get it. I get it. I get it.
The second half of the book picked up in terms of writing style and characters, although there were repetitions, they weren’t as bad. We also get a stronger, clearer picture of the women Aaron meets and why they are the broken, vulnerable, weak shells they are. I enjoyed these, not because Aaron is a complete *insert inappropriate comment here* but because Mary Ann D’Alto’s writing flourishes. At the same time, I lost track of the unwinding plot the first half of the book seemed to be leading to, which suddenly dropped off to focus on Aaron’s victims. Instead it picks up with an amazing short look at Constance, who she is and her role in Aaron’s life. Masterful and tragic. A great build up at the end with a great powerful end. If the book had started as strongly as it finished, this would have definitely received a higher rating.
Rating: A promising 3 out of 5.