Review: Wild Swims by Dorthe Nors

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Synopsis:

A dazzling return to the short story by a finalist for the Man Booker International Prize

In fourteen effervescent stories, Dorthe Nors plumbs the depths of the human heart, from desire to melancholy and everything in between. Just as she did in her English-language debut, Karate Chop, Nors slices straight to the core of the conflict in only a few pages. But Wild Swims expands the borders of her gaze, following people as they travel through Copenhagen, London, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, and elsewhere.

Here are portraits of men and women full of restless longing, people who are often seeking a home but rarely finding it. A lie told during a fraught ferry ride on the North Sea becomes a wound that festers between school friends. A writer at a remote cabin befriends the mother of an ex-lover. Two friends knock doors to solicit fraudulent donations for the cancer society. A woman taken with the idea of wild swims ventures as far as the local swimming pool.

These stories have already been featured in the pages of New YorkerHarper’s MagazineTin House, and A Public Space. They sound the darker tones of human nature and yet find the brighter chords of hope and humor as well. Cutting and offbeat without ever losing its warmth, Wild Swims is a master class in concision and restraint, and a path to living life without either. With Wild Swims Nors’s star will continue to be ascendant.

Review:

Dorthe Nors writing is something to behold. Every one of her works is very slim, compact, and engaging. Her newest collection of short stories is fourteen stories in 124 pages, each story lasting about six or eight pages. And each story knocked me upside the head. Nors is a Danish writer who has had some buzz, mostly around her short story collection Karate Chop, and honestly any accolades and praise is well deserved.

I have never read a collection like Wild Swims. All of these stories are so short, and they also feel like rumors. Nors writes fantastic scenes but she doesn’t tell the reader everything. For example, in the opening story, In a Deer Stand, the unnamed main character has fled his house and is hiding in a stranger’s tree stand. There is no real explanation of why he is running from his house, but there are indications, like his wife not being liked by his family, like the relationship of Lissette with the family, and if the whole running from the house has something to do with the relationship between the male character and Lissette (which could be implied, but it’s the reader who is doing the implying.) With many of these stories, I can come with the interpretation of the action, that the main character is running from his wife because she found out about an affair between Lissette and him, but this is me drawing the conclusions, not something that is on the page. And this is every one of the stories in this collection. Dorthe Nors gives us whispers, and our own interpretation of these whispers is how the story is formed. 

The writing and translation by Misha Hoekstra is impressive in another way as well. Nors likes to switch between the softness of nature and the hardness of city life, going back and forth between the two sometimes within the same paragraph. Returning to the first story, the main character’s sitting in the tree stand as dusk is settling in. He thinks about wolves while also thinking about his home and marriage. The two do not seem connected but they are, and this connection happens throughout these stories. 


I know I have talked mostly about the first story, but there is so much to talk about in this story. This story is also four pages long. There are so many amazing stories throughout this collection, and all of them are so impressive that I could talk at length about any of them, making up some of the impressions that I received while reading them, impressions that could be different to any other reader. Usually I struggle through short story collections, but Wild Swims is so spellbinding that I read it all in one sitting, wondering the whole time if I can even writing anything as amazing as this. The result is that every single story is masterful, and I cannot think of ever reading a single author story collection as impressive as this one. I will be rereading stories in this collection repeatedly. Just to try to figure out how Dorthe Nors writes with so much magic.

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Review: Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Buy it here: Amazon Bookshop

Synopsis:

After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find—her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.

Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: Not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemí’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.

Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí, but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.

And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind. 

Review:

Review originally published at mysteryandsuspense.com

Gothic horror has some tropes that make it “gothic.” A large, crumbling mansion, a convoluted family history, usually a family living off of money earned generations ago, a marriage or two that hints of incestuous coupling, unhappiness and violence, and a stranger called to the mansion for one reason or another.

Some great examples of gothic horror are Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier, Dracula by Bram Stoker, The House on Haunted Hill by Shirley Jackson, and The Woman in Black by Susan Hill. Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia fits so well into the pocket of gothic horror that it is a great place to start for any reader who is curious about this subgenre.

Mexican Gothic starts with in 1950s Mexico City with a woman, Noemi, getting a telegram from her cousin, Catalina, who says that the family she married into, the Doyles, are trying to poison her. Noemi decides to visit her so she travels to Hill Place, a remote, decaying mansion, built by the family through the profits of a now defunct silver mine. She arrives and within pages strange things are happening. Another thing about gothic horror is that the pacing is usually slow. Moreno-Garcia builds up the tension between Noemi and the family who does not appreciate her meddling in their family affairs. For the first 200 pages, the lies and suspicion get deeper and deeper. The story is interesting, and I did not spend any time wondering when the novel will get better, but Moreno-Garcia spends her time putting all of the pieces into place before exposing the grotesque picture. Even though the first two-thirds of the novel are about family secrets and mystery, once the true nature of her visit is unveiled, the reader is still not ready for the real horror to begin.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia has made a name for herself in her short career. This is her sixth novel in five years, Mexican Gothic is one that has put her name in the mouths of many horror fans, earning the 2020 Goodreads Best Horror book of the year (beating out Stephen King’s latest by 40,000 votes), not only is this a stunning book, but it also marks the beginning of a new generation of horror writers that are making horror one of the best genres to read at the moment. Mexican Gothic is a monumental novel and definitely one that deserves the recognition it is receiving. With Moreno-Garcia releasing a book or two every year, all of them varying drastically from the one before, she is very well setting herself up to be one of the most important horror and suspense novelists of our time.

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Review: She Ain’t Pretty by Renee Miller

Released February 25, 2021

Preorder it here:

Amazon

Synopsis:

“Older women make killer lovers…”

Blake Swanson answered an ad for a job as a farmhand, but when he arrives for his interview, Lily, the widow who placed the ad, seduces him. He forgets everything but Lily as he falls down a rabbit hole of sex and terror.

Eva Bright is following a true crime scoop for a book, and infiltrates a cult run by a woman named Lily Maenad via a job posting. Working as Lily’s assistant, Eva knows she’s stumbled into something bigger than a doomsday cult. Lily isn’t just some nut in the woods trying to convince people she’s the next Messiah.

Eva teams up with a hopeless young man who has been drained by Lily, but are they enough to stop the terrors going on?

Review:

Horror reading and publishing has been going through a renaissance. Many readers are getting away from those doorstop horror novels and opting for the slim, fast paced novellas. Novellas have been really changing the way that we read and write horror because it shows that a story can be 100 pages long and have impact and that the plot does not have to go on for 300 pages to be a great story. The novellas being published by Unnerving are a perfect example of this. With their Rewind or Die novellas, they have published many great novellas and writers.  “She Ain’t Pretty” is number 25 in the series. 

The story starts with Blake needing a job and applying to help a widow, Lily, as a farmhand. As soon as he interviews, it turns into Lily seducing him and making him her servant. Blake did not know that Lily is actually running a sex cult when he arrived, but Eva did. She is on assignment to write a nonfiction, tell-all book about Lily and her cult. She applies for an assistant position to get close to the lady, and when she starts to peel back the layers of the cult, she realizes that escape is her only choice.

I was totally immersed in Renee Miller’s novella from pretty much the beginning. When it is revealed early on that this was all a cult, and that the entire novella was going to be sex and horror, I was hooked. There are some really gruesome scenes and discoveries, and even though the final resolution feels a little anticlimactic, there is no way that I can put this book down and just forget about it. 

For as great as novellas have been, the one downfall is when you have a story like this and you just want more. I want more of Lily’s backstory. I want more of the farm. I want more characters that have crossed her and not survived. This could be a doorstop horror novel, 400 pages novel, and I would love it just as much. 

I received this as an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: Suicide’s Suicide (33 1/3) by Andi Coulter

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Synopsis:

New York City in the 1970s was an urban nightmare: destitute, dirty, and dangerous. As the country collectively turned its back on the Big Apple, two musical vigilantes rose out of the miasma. Armed only with amplified AC current, Suicide’s Alan Vega and Marty Rev set out to save America’s soul. Their weaponized noise terrorized unsuspecting audiences. Suicide could start a riot on a lack of guitar alone. Those who braved their live shows often fled in fear–or formed bands (sometimes both). This book attempts to give the reader a front-row seat to a Suicide show.

Suicide is one of the most original, most misunderstood, and most influential bands of the last century. While Suicide has always had a dedicated cult following, the band is still relatively unknown outside their musical coterie. Arguing against the idea of the band’s niche musical history, this book looks at parallels between Marvel Comics’ antiheroes in the 1970s and Suicide’s groundbreaking first album. Andi Coulter tells the origin story of two musical Ghost Riders learning to harness their sonic superpower, using noise like a clarion call for a better future.

Review:

There has not been a 33 ⅓ book that is not worth the time and effort to read and seek out the album to listen to afterward. All of them are written about important albums in any artist’s career, whether significant to their success or significant to the culture of the time. Andi Coulter’s exploration of Suicide’s self-titled debut album is no exception but actually the strongest example of the reason why 33 ⅓ books should exist.

Not everyone has heard of Suicide, and if you have heard of them, you might not have listened to a single song. However Suicide is considered one of the most influental and important bands of the time. Consisting of Alan Vega on vocals and Martin Rev doing all of the music, the duo really made an impact with their live shows, getting into fights and making people run. They were known for their abrasiveness, and even though everyone says they cleared out any sort of venue, they were still getting booked for gigs and a large group of people say they saw them live. Thurston Moore came from Connecticut into the city to see several bands, but it was Suicide and Alan Vega strangling audience members with his microphone cord that really brought to think about forming Sonic Youth. Henry Rollins counts them as one of the most influential groups of all time and even was the spokesperson for Alan Vega’s family after he died. Suicide might not have a large listenership, but those who do listen love them.

After reading the book and listening to the album a few times, I can say that I agree completely with the importance that Coulter puts on this band and their music. It is something unlike anything I had ever heard before, and even though it is loud, abrasive, and sloppy, it is also hypnotizing. I hope this brings awareness to Suicide’s originality and brings them more listeners. 

I received this as an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: The New Springfield Chronicles by Julia Platz-Halter

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Amazon, Bookshop

Synopsis:

Nuclear war has destroyed civilization, and now the survivors must rebuild. Their guide in this monumental task? The first ten seasons of the hit animated sitcom, The Simpsons. New Springfield might just be the greatest city in the wasteland, though not everyone is happy. When a brutal new mayor is reelected and begins consolidating his power, a team of rebellious children are forced to act. It’s a desperate plan, but the fate of the world, what’s left of it anyway, may hang in the balance

Review:

Julia Platz-Halter is writing interesting books. While listening to talk about the plots of her various works, I say, “I want to read that one. But I also want to read that one. But I also want to read that one.” I finally decided to start my journey into her work with the novella, The New Springfield Chronicle because the premise of this one sticks out just slightly in front of the others. The idea is that a nuclear apocalypse has happened, and the only guide people have to rebuild society is the first 10 seasons of The Simpsons. After a few hundred years of society building, some kids have an idea that there is more to society than this and they try to figure out what they are missing. I thought I was pretty well versed in the Simpsons, especially the first ten seasons because they originally aired when I was a teenager. Honestly many of the references were missed by me, but I know this is not the fault of the book but the fault of the reader. I feel like one of those diehard Simpsons fans that know every episode will enjoy it even more than I did.

The execution of this story is as clever as the premise. The Quimby is using his power to restrict the freedoms in his town, by increasing the wiggums and making sure that everyone follows the rules. The hero of the story, Art, decides that he needs to figure out if there is knowledge and society beyond New Springfield, and he plans to use this to help change the suppressive culture based on only ten seasons of The Simpsons. The story moves fast, and even though the references are limited to only ten seasons, it does not feel like they are redundant or worn out. I would like to know a part of the plot that really is not explored, where the seems to be a procedure they do to keep the third child the “Maggie”, but besides a building and mention of scar tissue, there is no deep exploration (if there’s ever a sequel, I hope it’s about this.) I enjoyed the story, and it has made me start to watch the first ten seasons of the Simpsons just in case I have to use them to rebuild society in the near future. 

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Review: Outlawed by Anna North

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Synopsis:

The Crucible meets True Grit in this riveting adventure story of a fugitive girl, a mysterious gang of robbers, and their dangerous mission to transform the Wild West.

In the year of our Lord 1894, I became an outlaw.

The day of her wedding, 17 year old Ada’s life looks good; she loves her husband, and she loves working as an apprentice to her mother, a respected midwife. But after a year of marriage and no pregnancy, in a town where barren women are routinely hanged as witches, her survival depends on leaving behind everything she knows.

She joins up with the notorious Hole in the Wall Gang, a band of outlaws led by a preacher-turned-robber known to all as the Kid. Charismatic, grandiose, and mercurial, the Kid is determined to create a safe haven for outcast women. But to make this dream a reality, the Gang hatches a treacherous plan that may get them all killed. And Ada must decide whether she’s willing to risk her life for the possibility of a new kind of future for them all.

Featuring an irresistibly no-nonsense, courageous, and determined heroine, Outlawed dusts off the myth of the old West and reignites the glimmering promise of the frontier with an entirely new set of feminist stakes. Anna North has crafted a pulse-racing, page-turning saga about the search for hope in the wake of death, and for truth in a climate of small-mindedness and fear. 

Review:

This is one of the first books of the year that I bought and read as something different than my normal books. I do not know much about a contemporary, feminist western, but my biggest reason for getting this book is the cover. The bright pink, blue and yellow really drew my eye, and I did one of those “why not” shrugs and gave it a whirl. I did judge this book by the cover, and I was rewarded for my shallowness. 

The story centers around the Hole in the Wall Gang, a group of thieves who live in the mountains and are dangerous as can be. Led by The Kid, a preacher turned outlaw leader, the gang is small but each one has a different specialty, and they all have something deeper in common. The beginning of the novel starts with Ava, seventeen years old, married, and trying to conceive a child. To be barren in 1894 makes you at best someone to divorce and throw away but at worst a witch who deserves to be hanged. The story of Ava mixes quickly with the Hole in the Wall Gang, and eventually it turns into a novel about group dynamics and survival.

I loved the way that this book is written. All of the chapters have definitive starts and stops. Point A to Point B, then reset. Every chapter contains so much time, plot and character development that every one of them can be an entire book instead of a chapter. Anna North does not summarize the plot as much as only tells the parts that are needed to be told to make the story clear, fast paced, and engaging.  The first three chapters of this book particularly could be taught as a way to write a large amount of time in a short amount of space. Another writing thing that I noticed and loved is how many times Ada described how she is feeling by remembering how her sisters and her interacted when she was still at home. The way that North uses this device, as if Ada’s family is really one of the only experiences that she can draw on so she uses them as much as she can to understand what was happening, is done expertly and with sharp precision. The writing in this book and the way that the plot is laid out and executed is worth reading on it’s own.

The actual story though. I have read a few westerns in my life, some Louis L’Amour when I was a kid and Elmore Leonard when I was older, and this does fit into the traditional outlaw western. Plotting crimes, running from the law, and having a shootout are all things that make this like a traditional western, but all of the characters make for more of a modern novel. The mixture of both makes this plot-driven like a traditional western but also character heavy like contemporary fiction. Many of the characters do not get the spotlight like the Kid and Ava, but all of them are born out of tragic circumstances, and it is known that the Hole in the Wall Gang is really the only family that each one of them has. For as entertaining as it is for a western, it is as heartbreaking as a character study.

I enjoyed this novel, and it is a great start to the reading year. I have already been recommending it to everyone I know who reads. “Outlawed” is a great experience, and I am glad that this cover caught my eye.  

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Book Review: The Demon, the Dumbwaiter, and the Douchebag by Sal Cangemi

Buy it here: Amazon, Bookshop

Synopsis:

Kyle Jarvis is hiding. He has moved into Le Trou Du Cul, a pleasant suburban apartment complex, to hide from those he has wronged. But the well-hidden complex is not as quiet as he had hoped. And there are the odd neighbors. A reclusive old actress, a man who listens to Christmas music year-round, and the Horn Family – the patriarch of which who has found a way to travel back in time to his 1980’s hay-day – are fighting a demon!

The forest surrounding the complex is ready to engulf the building. Unknown animals are appearing on the grounds – including a family of Sasquatch and a Nessie-like serpent in the small man-made lake. A ghost is haunting one apartment while another shrinking. And a demon, the (almost) evil SLYMIND BRAINTWIST, is the cause of it all.

When the Horn Family’s son, the trouble-making Timmy, disappears, the tenants must ban together and form an alliance with Jarvis as their unlikely leader, in hopes of returning the boy home. It is up to Jarvis and Summer, a neo-hippy, to lead the way. Summer has enlisted the help of the flamboyant clairvoyant, Anton Snow, to fight the battle.

An absurdist allegory about conforming, lost dreams, and regret, overflowing with horror and humor, The Demon, the Dumbwaiter and the Douchebag is a hilarious social satire that will have its reader cringing and laughing in equal measure.

Review:

Sometimes you hear about a book that you know you’re going to like on premise alone. “The Demon, The Dumbwaiter, and the Douchebag” is one of those stories. I have a soft spot for the subgenre of apartment building stories, where the entire building is represented as different characters. One story that sticks out in my mind is the French film, “Delicatessen,” where the whole building is licking their chops at the prospect of eating their new maintenance man. Any book I find with an apartment building as a setting and a huge list of characters interacting with one another is really in my wheelhouse. 

I heard about Sal Cangemi’s debut novella on the Bizzong! Podcast, and I knew that it was one I needed to read. The story is that an apartment building has a demon living in it’s dumbwaiter, and once it is freed, it wreaks havoc on all of the inhabitants. The apartment building, “Le Trou Du Cul” (throw that in the google translator), is filled with characters that are actually a great deal of fun. Louis Green likes to look for Bigfoot in the 400 yard woods. Marlene Davis is an actress that is well beyond her career and just living. The Horn family who are a picture of dysfunction. Summer, “a neo-hippy new age asshole,” and the main focus character, Kyle Jarvis, who was running for something or someone that he did not want anyone to learn about. There are several other characters, and Cangemi does a good job introducing the large cast but still being able to keep the story moving fast toward the trainwreck. The trainwreck is caused by the demon, Slymind Braintwist, who is trying to graduate from living in Heck to living in Hell. He thinks the way to do this is cause chaos, pit one apartment dweller against the other, until they all kill each other. The actions that he causes are sometimes funny, sometimes gross, sometimes cringeworthy (like when he makes people say racist things), and sometimes not great. There are many jokes and pranks and a few of them seem a little too juvenile and fall flat but most of them work well.

For such a short novella, around 100 pages, Cangemi does a good job. There are some things that a story this short can be lacking, character or plot development particularly, but in his case, he does a good job keeping things clear and satisfying. Most of it is pretty funny, but there might be a few things that some might find offensive, mostly racist and homophobic language. I know the demon is making the characters say these things so I took it with a grain of salt but it may cause some  people to want to skip this one. Either way, Sal Cangemi’s debut is solid, and I will be looking forward to whatever comes next from him.   I’m comfortable giving this one 3.5 stars out of 5.

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Review: The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

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Hardcover, 320 pages
Expected publication: May 19th 2020 by Gallery / Saga Press
Original Title
The Only Good Indians
ISBN
1982136456 (ISBN13: 9781982136451)
Edition Language
English
Preorder here:

Synopsis:

The creeping horror of Paul Tremblay meets Tommy Orange’s There There in a dark novel of revenge, cultural identity, and the cost of breaking from tradition in this latest novel from the Jordan Peele of horror literature, Stephen Graham Jones.

Seamlessly blending classic horror and a dramatic narrative with sharp social commentary, The Only Good Indians follows four American Indian men after a disturbing event from their youth puts them in a desperate struggle for their lives. Tracked by an entity bent on revenge, these childhood friends are helpless as the culture and traditions they left behind catch up to them in a violent, vengeful way.

Review:

This is my first experience with Stephen Graham Jones. I have…

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Review: Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden

Hardcover, 336 pages. Published August 25th 2020 by Ecco

Buy it here: Bookshop, Amazon

Synopsis:

A groundbreaking thriller about a vigilante on a Native American reservation who embarks on a dangerous mission to track down the source of a heroin influx. 

Virgil Wounded Horse is the local enforcer on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota.  When justice is denied by the American legal system or the tribal council, Virgil is hired to deliver his own punishment, the kind that’s hard to forget. But when heroin makes its way into the reservation and finds Virgil’s nephew, his vigilantism suddenly becomes personal. He enlists the help of his ex-girlfriend and sets out to learn where the drugs are coming from, and how to make them stop.

They follow a lead to Denver and find that drug cartels are rapidly expanding and forming new and terrifying alliances. And back on the reservation, a new tribal council initiative raises uncomfortable questions about money and power. As Virgil starts to link the pieces together, he must face his own demons and reclaim his Native identity. He realizes that being a Native American in the twenty-first century comes at an incredible cost.

Winter Counts is a tour-de-force of crime fiction, a bracingly honest look at a long-ignored part of American life, and a twisting, turning story that’s as deeply rendered as it is thrilling.

Review:

Most of my reading is geared toward horror and small presses, so picking up “Winter Counts” was kind of me reading something that was not in my normal TBR pile. My reward for going passed my boundaries and reading this novel was tremendous. Part thriller, part mystery, part nonfiction narrative on what it is like to live on the Lakota tribe reservation, this is a story that wraps you up and will not let you go until the final page. I had 100 pages left to read the other night, and I had gotten three hours of sleep, wrestled kids, made dinner, cleaned up, and put the kids to bed. I was tired, but I thought I would read as few pages before I passed out from exhaustion. This book was one of the first books that has ever kept me awake to finish. I read the rest and promptly passed out. Now days later, I have had some time to think about the finish of this novel, and I can say that this climax is one of the best ones I have read in a long time.

Virgil Wounded Horse is a local enforcer, a person that is hired by private citizens who want a job done that the police will ignore. He is raising his nephew Nathan, and when Nathan gets into trouble, he is the one who has to figure out how to get them both out of it. There are a ton of great, strongly drawn characters. It is weird when you can pretty much name every single character in a novel days after you read it, but there’s Marie, Lark, Ben and his wife Ann, Tommy (Virgil’s friend), Rick Crow, and Dennis. I’m sure that I’ve missed a few, like Delia Kills in Water, but to be able to go through a list of almost all of the major and minor characters days after reading it also does not happen very often. This novel really leaves a mark.

I could also get into the injustice that the native tribes have endured and still endure, but we already know this. We know that every tribe was killed for their land, their traditions, religions, and culture eradicated, and their history whitewashed. “Winter Counts” is a pretty accurate description of the current state of life on the reservation. There are not long passages that bog down the action, but there is a fine balance between the story and the information. I feel like I left this novel, not only with a good story but with some new knowledge. This is one of those books that should be read for the plot but is worth more than the story.

I enjoyed this much more than I expected, and I cannot recommend this enough. I think that there are some new Native American voices in literature that need to be heard, and David Heska Wanbli Weiden is one of those voices. 

9/10

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Review: Extinction Peak by Lucas Mangum

Paperback, 163 pages

Published September 22nd 2020 by Madness Heart Press

Buy it here: Madness Heart Press, Amazon, Bookshop

Synposis:

When the raptors come out of sinkholes across the United States, Deandra Antigone Merriweather’s elder brother Johnny sees the chaos as opportunity.

Overrun by prehistoric beasts of increasing size and savagery, the world has completely gone to hell, but he doesn’t suspect it will stay that way, and he wants to be a rich man by the time things get back to normal.

Though less optimistic about the future, Deandra thinks it might be a good idea to have some money stashed away just in case, if only so she can one day getaway from the abusive Johnny for good.

Together, they embark on a perilous journey across the wasteland to rob the mountain home of a corrupt California senator.

But the home isn’t empty. The senator has stayed behind to live like a king in this post-apocalypse world. With specially trained raptors, his sadistic wife, and sexually stunted son, all manner of misery awaits Deandra within the house’s walls.

All the while, the outside world crumbles under the trampling feet of monsters long thought extinct. 

Review:

What would you do if the earth was hollow, and when sinkholes started to appear around the globe, dinosaurs started to come out? I am pretty sure that I would be in the first wave of deaths, but if you were to survive, what would existence be like? This is where brother and sister, Johnny and Deandra find themselves at the beginning of the novella, “Extinction Peak.” They spend most of their life in the basement of their dad’s home (who also was a doomsday prepper), plotting a way to break into a corrupt California senator’s mansion to steal his riches. Of course they were also going to have to dodge raptors, pterodactyls, T-Rex, and even the large herbivores that are knocking down buildings and infrastructure. But this is just the beginning.

There is so much that happens in this short novella, but for something so short, there is a great deal of depth. The brother and sister on a mission is just one part of the plot that never loses it’s way, but follows more the philosophy written on page 57 (of the Kindle edition):

“This was no world for heroes. Perhaps it never had been. It was only a place for anarchists.”

Nobody in this book is really a nice guy; there are just characters that you are rooting for more than others. At the end of the day, the ones that succeed are the ones that can be the most ruthless. And there are times when the character conflict is so great that you almost forget that as soon as the victor in the fighting steps outside, they have to deal with being killed by dinosaurs. This makes for a great, cinematic story that should be read by anyone who loves dinosaur destruction and/or garbage people doing garbage things.

8.5/10

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