If I was to spend precious time in this review giving the basic premise of the plot, chances are you wouldn’t choose to read this book. It’s not that the plot is boring or unimaginative, but more so that the atmosphere created in this story is its focal point. Don’t worry, this statement will make more sense soon.
Juniper is a small town that succumbed to great floods in its past. But that was then and now the place is a scorched wasteland. Times are tough for the residents, many of whom struggle to find where their next meal is coming from. The descriptions of the town and the environment are simple and to the point; not pages of detailed waffling. With these few chosen words Jeffery is able to perfectly capture the almost cataclysmic heat that infects Juniper and its denizens.
And this is great storytelling. A thoroughly depressing setting that entices you to keep reading. I’m pretty sure my Kindle felt like it was overheating, such was the world-building on display. In fact, I’m still sweating!!
Anyway, on with the spoiler-free review.
Betty’s an old gal who searches for roadkill in order to survive. See, I told you things were desperate here. She lives alone in squalor and is in constant pain with her dodgy hip. If only she could find a companion, eh?
Janet is a victim of domestic abuse and violence from her husband, Klein. This dude was a nasty, deplorable character. I usually love a good bad guy, but Klein was truly horrible. His rages and derisory comments to Janet are so awful I was craving for bad things to happen to him throughout.
I’m going to stop there with characters and plot because you need to experience this one for yourself. What I will say is that the book strings you along perfectly into believing what is going on, only to rub your face in it right at the end for being such a gullible idiot. It seems as though the ending is going to reach a natural, pleasing conclusion but no, there’s a rusty spanner thrown in the air conditioning works.
If the conclusion I thought was coming had been followed through with I would have been a little disappointed, so thankfully the ending really worked for me. It’s one of those stories that you need to go back through and look for clues that you may have missed the first time round. I did in fact do this, and was impressed at how little was given away early on. Or perhaps the clues were too subtle for me.
If you fancy something a little different you really should take a trip down to Juniper. Just make sure you pack the suncream, you’re definitely going to need it.
Categories: book review