Keepers by Gary Braunbeck
339 pages Leisure Books
I instantly became a fan of Braunbeck after seeing him do a powerful reading performance of a zombie story that he had released as a chapbook. It was an emotional, heartbreaking and gut-wrenching performance. After reading my third Braunbeck Novel (In silent Graves and Prodigal Blues) I can say those three descriptions describe each of those novels but Keepers is my favorite of the three.
Half way through the book a friend asked me what the book was about. I tried to explain it to him, but it came out sounding like a mess. My fault Braunbeck told this story in a non-linear but brilliant fashion. It was my explanation that failed.
The story of a loner and souvenir shop owner Gil stewart is almost an inverse of Pet Semetary. It explores similar themes, where do our beloved pets , and family members go when we can’t keep them anymore.
Like many great horror novels the strength of the story is the rich love we as readers develop for Gil’s loved ones. This novel is full of rich emotions that power the story. There is a heart breaking relationship with Beth, the woman Gil loves despite her inability to love him back same way. Gil’s nephew with down syndrome is a charming character, all these emotions are what make horror novel work.
This novel is clearly a post Stephen King novel that is clearly influenced by the master. That is a great thing because Braunbeck is not influenced by King King plots or concepts but by his tone and rich connection to the emotions of his characters. I was worried this novel would demonize animals, but thankfully this novel was the opposite. Check this novel out!