Reads of July 2023

Wounds, Nathan Ballingrud
When I started this book, I initially thought, WTH am I reading? I didn’t think this author’s work was for me, but as I went further and got used to his way of world building, which is to drop the reader straight into the darkest depths of hell, I became engrossed. For those of nervous dispositions they’d likely say they’re grossed out, but gory descriptions aside, it was the imaginative creativity of the writer’s style. Bizarre, surreal, warped… the stories presented here are all these things and more. From the borders of hell, indeed. Strangely, I enjoyed each subsequent story more, starting with my least favourite to the best — to my knowledge, The Butcher’s Table being a vision of piracy we’ve never seen before.

Ticktock, Dean Koontz
Mingle a devil doll, an unexplainable creature, a mad headlong dash to escape its deadly intent, a woman who seems more capable than any secret agent, and a dog with more abilities than your most intelligent canine and to some this book may seem ridiculous. The author explains his reason for writing this, but on this re-read, all I can say is it’s a lot of fun. Suspend belief and go along for the ride and the book reaches a satisfying if extraordinary conclusion. Some books are purely there to entertain.

Making Money, Terry Pratchett
No doubt baffling, but I have a handful of Terry Pratchett books left to read, well aware that when I’ve read them, there are no more (although I can and may well read them again). Therefore, though it’s been out for many years, this is my first reading of Making Money. What Terry and Moist von Lipwig did for the post office, he does here for the banks. What more can I say? Fine comic writing. Wonderful satire. Outstanding as always with a cast of unforgettable characters, including a dog with a newfound and beloved toy.

Tuck Everlasting, Natalie Babbitt
Thought-provoking tale with not-so-subtle themes on the meaning of life and death, immortality, and even freedom. I’d include this on any recommended reading list for children and teens. Although listed as a children’s book, this is one many adults enjoy. Still, I found this cautionary tale to be too short and would have preferred more emotional writing, even when I was of the intended age. Of course, if everyone lived indefinitely it would spell disaster, but it’s easier to see how it would be worse for the people in the book, then perhaps for someone with greater aspirations in a more modern world. A bittersweet read that doesn’t pack such a punch when we’ve moved so far away from a time when horses are the only means of transport. I couldn’t help thinking of vampire stories where they’ve had to invest their money, return as a distant relative to claim their own fortunes. In another scenario, eternal life might not be a curse for some, especially if it was possible to end it at a time of one’s choosing. Therefore, the warning here holds true, but not entirely, though it leaves the question of what you would do when Winnie is confronted with the offer at the end of the book.

Sole Survivor, Dean Koontz
A well plotted supernatural thriller, this book is going to mean different things to different people primarily depending on their religious beliefs. At first, I was a little irritated by its message, which I saw as potentially flawed. Without giving away the revelation, it’s hard to explain why, except to say there’s no way to know the truth behind what someone shows people. I think the main character of Joe Carpenter explores a husband’s and father’s grief well, but the book feels overlong. There’s an almost comfortable ride, even through moments of tension and a lot left toward the end to be revealed. Not as boring as an info dump, still it’s a lot to take in. It’s like 90% of the book builds question after question and then the remaining chunk provides the answer and it left me feeling a little bombarded as I finished the novel. Having said that, I’d have to take time to consider how anyone would present this story in another format and it’s an imaginative plot. We know Koontz for incorporating his religious beliefs and there’s a high percentage of that here, but, as I’ve said, everything here is open to interpretation. It’s gripping enough to be well worth reading once, though this was a re-read for me after many years.

About Sharon

Writer of Dark and Light Fiction. Fact, fiction, poetry, short stories, articles and novels. Cross-genre, slipstream, non-traditional romance, gothic, horror, fantasy and more... Visit this diverse writer's site.
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