10 July 2024

The Headmasters
by Mark Morton
Published by Shadowpaw Press
Review by Toby A. Welch  
$26.99 ISBN 9781989398845

Mark Morton has created a fascinating world in The Headmasters. Blue Ring is an interesting place to spend a chunk of time if you are into science-fiction. 

The front of this book is so cool – kudos to the cover artist. At first it looks like abstract black and green art but upon closer examination, the top half is a glimpse at the back of a young woman’s head from her shoulders up, her hair in a neat bun. The bottom half is hard to know with certainty but my best guess is that it’s an upside-down view of a creature’s skull. Regardless of what it really is, it’s a beautiful picture and it inspired me to jump straight into The Headmasters

Unlike my original assumption that ‘Headmasters’ refers to people who are heads of schools, in this book the word refers to hand-sized parasitic entities (for lack of a better word). Headmasters attach to humans, who become their hosts. The Headmasters first made their appearance sixty years before the start of the book, a time when everyone died except for the people at Blue Ring. All remaining humans have a Headmaster and the Headmasters are transferred to another person when the body they are inhabiting dies. When Headmasters transfer, they take the memories of their person with them to the next body. 

Humans are powerless to fight the Headmasters. They go along with whatever the Headmasters direct them to do as the entities control their bodies and minds. But will Maple, a resilient twelve-year-old and an unforgettable main character, be able to do something that no one else has pulled off – defeat the Headmasters?

I enjoyed that Morton keeps his writing concise yet also descriptive. Unlike authors who can take a paragraph to describe something – or even a whole page – Morton is able to keep it to one sentence while still ensuring that readers can get a real sense of what he is discussing. It is a skill that not enough writers have (in my humble opinion) and one that I greatly appreciate.

If you are looking for a quick read, this isn’t it. Morton takes close to 450 pages to flesh out his memorable characters and thoroughly develop a plot that will stick with readers long after they turn the last page. As you meander through the seventy-three chapters, the journey you go on is a gripping one.

This is Morton’s first foray into science-fiction and I hope it will not be his last. Morton is more known for his award-winning nonfiction writing but he clearly has a successful future in the fiction realm if he goes that route. 

If you like diving into intriguing fantastical worlds, The Headmasters needs a spot on your bookshelf. 


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