Enter the brave paranormal investigators, Jemma and Alex; Jemma is the one with the psychic skills and a general aversion to life, while Alex serves as her loyal fixer. They jet off to Southeast Asia and are met by Terry, an expat Englishman, and a dodgy guide known as Mr. Lucky. As the ghost hunters start poking their noses around the islands, they realize they may very well be the creature’s next meal.
The creature of this feature is an aswang, a Filipino variation of a vampire. It’s a nice exotic twist, as are the surroundings, meticulously brought to life; all sunny skies and blue lagoons, hardly a proper place for any self-respecting nasties. Yet there she is, lurking in the cool shade of the palm leaves. Probably enjoying her life, nibbling on some tasty rib.
She’s pretty much absent for much of the story. The ghost hunters, however, are front and center; they’re also slightly problematic, seeing as Jemma with her superpowers is as much a miracle as the aswang. There’s an obvious parallel, of course, but it does eat away some of the realism; you can suspend disbelief only so much. The plot also wanders a bit, with a lot of ferrying to and from the island, changing plans, a double cross, and even hijinks in a disguise. As a whole, Sacrifice Island (2013) is a nice, fun read with a fresh mythology, but it doesn’t quite knock the reader’s socks off.
But there are some wonderful nuggets: the detail that the aswang had decorated her den with an image of Daisy Duck, the drunken tourist who gets served as a meal, and the deliciously creepy finale, which involves swallowing something rather disgusting – although maybe they’ve eaten worse things on Survivor by now?