Five short stories set in a setting that includes magic and a secret hidden world. All of them written by Clinton J Boomer (CJB).
I was lucky enough to meet him at NeonCon 2011. He has just released "The Hole After Midnight" at the time, and I inquired about what it was. I like the innovative work that CJB did on a number of RPG products and was receptive to hearing about his non-gaming book. His sales pitch, at the time "It's all about swearing protagonist who say [F-Bomb] and [F-Bomb]" immediately turned me off to the idea, I did not want to know much more about it - everything he said after that sounded like the teacher in a Charlie Brown cartoon.
Unsurprisingly, I did not purchase the book.
So when I was approached to review his latest offering set in the same universe, enough time had passed that I have been curious about it. I agreed to do a review of it. I must say this book is not for everyone, and it will leave you either loving it, or hating it.
- CJB is a great wordsmith creating very vivid imagery to illustrate his points. Four of the five stories are pretty much along the "well let me tell you about [something]" and we go on from there. The allegories and metaphors flow like a cascade, and keeps the reader wanting to know more. I sure did. Out of everything I write here, I cannot stress out how awesome the images are.
- The character's dialogues allows you to clearly see and figure out who they are and what their interest are. The best and easiest way to describe their interactions remind me of the awesome nonsense Quentin Tarrantino movies are so great for. Anyone for a "royale with cheese"?
- Swearing cheapens the narrative. This was the biggest thing for me. While I'm not prude, I think there is usually another way to say things.
- There isn't much action. In fact nothing really happens. A lot of talking and set up, but little actually happens. In three stories, we listen to the character tell us about something. In one, they set up some combat scene, which felt VERY Tarrantino, only to end without anything actually happening. The fight starts and the story ends. Even the final story does not actually delivers what we are following our "heroes" for. Many of these stories make me think of Reservoir Dogs: talk talk talk but no action.
Of the five stories, the last one, "End of it all: On the Farthest of the Far Sideways" was clearly my favorite, I found myself smiling throughout. I felt like I was watching one of these old animated movies with strangely deformed characters which made me like it even more.
So as I said at the start, this is the kind of books and stories that you love or you hate. I would fall in the "hate" category, simply because it's "not my kind of thing", just as if you asked me to review a romance novel. I can see MANY people loving it. The imagery alone is worth the cover price. CJB is a great writer and this book only convinces me even more. If you like his writing style or urban fantasy, then this book is for you.
So how would I rate this book? It's either a 4 stars OR a 5 stars whether you like or dislike that style. If you don't know if you like it, go ahead and get this book for yourself.
"But JP, how can you rate the book a four stars when you say you are not a fan?" You ask. Because that prose is like eating a New York style cheesecake. They are seriously great pieces of writing!
For transparency, I was offered a free copy of the book in return for writing this review.