Thursday, August 27, 2009
Book Review: Prodigal Blues By Gary A. Braunbeck
It was hard but spoiler free...
Ghouls, vampires and ghosts are the subject of a great majority of horror fiction novels. Perhaps the most grotesque of horror novels and the most frightening are the non-supernatural horror novel grounded completley in reality. Some of the best novels in this sub-genre as for me include Exquiste Corpse by Poppy Z.Brite, Testament by David Morrell and The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum. Now I can add Braunbeck's brutal masterpiece about child abuse Prodigal Blues.
PB explores what might have happened to the children we see(and almost always ignore) on posters. “Have you seen me?” Mark the main character alone on a road trip and stalled on the side of the road finds out quickly enough. This book is better going in cold. It's an expensive rare bbook but if your lucky enough to have library that has it. Portland does, it is highly recommended. I hope Braunbeck finds a paperback publisher for this short but intense horror novel.
Braunbeck has strong and unique voice but this book is very inspired by Stephen King and the road trip horror novel. The author doesn't shun this he has a dedication to the king. This novel takes twists and turns I didn't see coming and will have you cringing at the depths of humanity. For suspense and horrifying moments you can't go wrong here.
I have only minor problems, there is one chapter when the plot unfolds that almost derailed the novel for me, but in the end the surprising twist in the novel ends up working brilliantly. The only problem I seen with the novel is Braunbeck's tendecy to sidetrack the prose with observations. Don't get me wrong- personally I enjoy his observations and consider it an important part of Braunbeck's voice. At the same time I could see where some readers might find it distracting.
This novel to me is brutal masterpiece, if you have a strong stomach and want a story that will challenge it. You can't go wrong with Prodigal Blues. If you search for it I also reviewed Braunbeck's in Silent Graves a few years back.