Kavach Press, 2020, 333 pages
Murdoch’s past has finally come crashing down on him. His former girlfriend. The Family. He’s been happily avoiding them for ages, trying to live something close to a normal life. But now he’s been drawn back into another one of their ludicrous attempts to bring about the end of all things.
Chase has spent the past year just trying to get away. Trying to escape the memories that won’t stop following him, the moment when his life collapsed. He’s traveled around the world trying to stay ahead of it all, but those final moments may be catching up with him at last.
Anne is tired of living in the past. She’s finally looking to the future and embracing her destiny. She’s going to lead the Family forward on their greatest and ultimate crusade: to destroy the hated Machine of their long-time adversary.
Their paths will intersect in the middle of nowhere, on an uncharted island where the walls of reality are thin...and an apocalyptic threat is tearing its way through.
Peter Clines has written four novels in the same universe, though the stories are only loosely connected and can be read independently. However, Terminus is a direct sequel to 14, in which the residents of a strange, but strangely cheap, Los Angeles apartment building discovered that it was hiding bigger mysteries than its glowing green cockroaches.
In Terminus, a pair of backpacking American dudes are freighter-hopping around the world for different reasons. Chase is running away from his life, following a tragic loss. Doug is a walking stereotype of the clueless self-important hipster social media guy.
There is some strange weather, and then the ship has engine trouble. Stalled in the middle of the ocean, the captain explains to his American passengers that he needs to deal with some cargo that his clients might get just a teensy bit anxious about were anyone else not part of the crew to see it, so he's just gonna put them on an island for a few days and pick them up when they're done, they don't mind, right?
Chase gets it, Doug doesn't, but they both wind up on the island anyway.
Meanwhile, Murdoch, who is part of a mysterious group called the Family, has gotten sick of their end-times cult. Like an ex-Mormon, he no longer wants anything to do with their religion, but he still gets pulled back into it by obligations (and genetics, think Deep Ones), and so here he also is on this island, and fuck me, it's my ex-girlfriend who used to be as cynical and jaded as me about the Family's religion, but she's gone and gotten Born Again and now she's a minister. Oy. Awkward.
"Born again" figuratively speaking. The Family's religion is not Christianity. They believe their purpose is to summon the Great Ones to Earth, where they will cleanse the world and herald in a new and better one.
If that sounds kind of bad to you, you're not wrong. The Great Ones do indeed arrive, and they do indeed start "cleansing the world," and it's bad.
The Family has also captured Veek (one of the characters in 14) who's been helping run the Machine that's kept the Family from summoning the Great Ones for generations.
All these characters, as well as a few of the crew from the freighter, end up rumbling in the jungle while Great Ones (or "squales," short for "squid-whales," as Veek irreverently calls them) are running amok like a small army of invading Cthulhus.
Even more than the previous books in the series, Terminus unabashedly pays homage to the Lovecraft mythos (the characters are genre-savvy and directly name-check Lovecraft and Cthulhu), and this entire book is basically the story of a random band of RPG characters thrown together on an uncharted Pacific island to save the world. There are multiple factions, people switching sides, monsters, Great Old Ones, character deaths, eldritch technology, semi-immortal mad scientists running cloning experiments that are just a tiny bit unethical, and all that good stuff.
Like all of Clines's books, this is not a particularly innovative experience, it's just a save-the-world-from-Cthulhus yarn, but it's a big wet kiss for genre fans.
Also by Peter Clines: My reviews of Ex-Heroes, Ex-Patriots, Ex-Communication, Ex-Purgatory, Ex-Isle, 14, The Fold, and Paradox Bound.
My complete list of book reviews.