Mr. Shivers, the debut novel of Robert Jackson Bennett, is a book I just finished reading.
Normally, I don’t say anything about books on my blog unless it’s been a particularly helpful how-to book on the writing craft, and I feel other writers might benefit from it. In this case, though, I’d like to say, Mr. Bennett did an excellent job and sort of left me dumbfounded about how to classify it.
I think I can make a case for the ever-elusive “literary horror” I’ve been hearing so much about for the last couple of years. Here’s how:
The plot is a simple one: catch up to the bad guy who killed the protagonist’s daughter and kill him in revenge. At all costs. Regardless of collateral damage.
That’s it. The whole book centers on the protagonist’s search for an elusive killer which may or may not be human. The profound effects the pursuit has on him become clear throughout the story. In the end, we see a very different man from the one in the opening of the book, and the (sorta kinda predictable) ending makes it clear there has indeed been an internal change in the character.
The tension in the book is amazing, the writing gripping. As simplistic as the story is, the jacket promotional copy was misleading. At least to me. The story unfolded nicely, had good prose and the author clearly did his research on the time period. I don’t know how authentic the language was for dialog, but he built a convincing world and sucked me right in. I guess I’m not the smartest person on Earth either, but still – I thought it well executed. And the best part is, he only implies when the story takes place and gives you a general era, not a specific year.
I’m considering doing an Amazon review for this book. I’ve never done that before, but I’ve read a couple of really good ones this weekend and thought they were worth the trouble.
Anyway, I recommend Mr. Shivers by Robert Jackson Bennett. He does an excellent job of telling what I consider to be a character-driven story and creating a sense of horror without over the top gore or a finish which makes an atomic explosion seem mild. Bravo, Mr. Bennett.
How ‘bout you? Read any good books lately?