…It’s refreshing then, in this age of spectacle over substance, when a publisher such as Arcana offers up a book like Nikola Jajic’s Devil’s Island.
A historical thriller set on the notorious French penal colony, during the reign of Napoleon III, Devil’s Island is not only unique for its period setting and exotic locale but also for its decidedly metaphysical underpinnings. While Jajic definitely keeps the plot moving with loads of action, danger, and political intrigue, there’s a certain introspective tone to the book, evident in frequent, introverted pauses in both action and dialogue.
Chronicling the fates of a small crew of “hunters,” who help ensure the island’s already impregnable security by bringing in escaped fellow prisoners, Devil’s Island ably balances both action and exposition. Jajic’s protagonists ruminate on their fates and sordid pasts, even as they fight for survival against insurmountable odds. The writer easily flashes back and forth between the past and present, intercutting relevant moments in his characters’ lives with fast-paced chase sequences and protracted fight scenes in the present.
Period and setting are intrinsic to Devil’s Island’s success, as Jajic is well aware. Although set during a tumultuous era in French history, he never lets his plot become overwhelmed by his setting, instead allowing his characters to determine the course of their stories. This too, is of utmost importance as much of the book’s introspection revolves around the profound impact freedom of choice and our past decisions have on the present and eventually our future.
Special thanks to Jason Wilkins for the glowing review!