You know when you come across a book that piques your interest enough for you to add it to that wish list of yours? It may be some time before you get round to purchasing it and by then you’ve forgotten what enticed you in the first place. But it’s all good, the past-you must have made a good call so, trusting your previous judgment you dive head-first into it.
And then you realise that the book isn’t really what you thought it would be.
Well that scenario is exactly what happened with me here.
The covers shows a gauzed-up chick shushing you. It’s a great cover and one that seemingly sold me. The book is about a severely disfigured girl whose been locked away from the world for five years. That’s probably as far as I read blurb-wise and if I’d have researched more into it I may not have actually read it.
See, I like my horror. This is not a horror story. Although the subject of the girl’s quite frankly abysmal face is horrific, it’s pretty much a romance tale. Maybe a metaphor for beauty only being skin deep, eye of the beholder stuff, and for ignoring what others say and think in order to pursue your own happiness. So no, not a horror novel at all.
But guess what? After all that, I really enjoyed it. My previous-self was definitely on to something.
Jason Tray, a cartoonist, is advised to spend a few days in his agent’s secluded cabin in Georgia, while a certain ‘bad PR’ incident he was involved in is left to settle. Perhaps my media knowledge is lacking, but I felt this a little unlikely. Is Jason that famous? Anyway, it doesn’t matter too much, it gets the plot going pretty early on and without it, well, he wouldn’t be able to embark on his journey of love.
Rachel, or Blister, was the victim of a blowtorch attack five years ago. From then on her father has kept her locked away in the shed, away from the staring eyes of the locals in the small town. When Jason gets bored with his boring cabin, he befriends some of the residents in the local boozer and is taken to witness the town freak for himself.
At first he’s disgusted (say what you like, but we would all be a little shocked at this, to say the least), but Jason’s a good guy and feels bad about his reaction, so returns the next day to offer his apologies to Rachel and her father.
And then he falls for her.
The locals don’t take too kindly to this outsider taking an interest in their freak. As the novel progresses the details of Rachel’s ordeal become clearer, with flashbacks to the night in question when her whole world fell apart.
Think kind-of redneck, small town America where everyone knows everyone else’s business. It makes you wonder why Jason wanted to hang around longer than he had to.
The pacing was great, and the humour that Jason uses to relay his story caused more than a few chuckles to reverberate around my house. But I kept asking myself why he was doing all this for a burn victim he barely knew, it did seem a little far-fetched to be honest. Maybe I’m too much of a shallow, selfish prick.
However, my disbelief was suspended enough to breeze through this book in only a few sittings, such was the awesome story telling. This was my first foray into Jeff Strand’s work, but it won’t be the last, I’ve already read that this is a departure from his usual style.
So if you’re a fan of horror who fancies reading something a little more romantic, but without having to go full-on mush, this novel is a decent one to plump for!
Categories: book review