Book Reviews – Ketchum & Strand

Two more reviews of some quite non-traditional novels. Both of these have a ton of staying power to them and are ones you’ll carry with you for quite some time after the final page has turned.

The Secret Life Of Souls by Jack Ketchum and Lucky McKee


The Secret Life of Souls is a cleverly spun tragedy piece, and your heart will be breaking by the end of it. A window into a functioning dysfunctional family and the small decisions that lead to unimaginable consequences.

The characterizations were strong and believable and, having grown up as a “child actor”, I loved the glimpse into the entertainment industry and the quiet implications of what it does to people. The other thing I loved about this was that there was no real villain, only wounded individuals making poor decisions and then doing what they must to cover them.

Which, of course, only leads to more poor decisions.

Stylistically, I’m not a huge fan of using an animal’s POV as third or first person narrator. It’s a choice that, for whatever reason, just drives me out of the story and I always feel the author writing rather than the persona of the intended animal. I got worried at first that much of the story would be told this way but, thankfully, it was used sparingly.

Beyond that, this was a sharp story simply but effectively told. Well worth checking out.

Dweller by Jeff Strand

dwellerIf there’s one thing you can expect when reading a Jeff Strand novel it’s that the story isn’t going to go where you would expect.

But wait, if you’re expecting it not to go where you expect, does that mean it actually will go where you expect since your expectations are that it won’t go where you would normally assume? Or do your expectations cancel out the unexpected deviations of a “traditional” story (read: “Non”-Jeff Strand story), thereby making the unexpected rather blase, turning cherry blossom caramel-swirl candy corn ice cream into imitation vanilla?

Thankfully, this tasted nothing like vanilla. (Though Owen probably wouldn’t complain either way).

A simple story about an unlikely friendship made all the more interesting by the unique way in which it was told. This is a book no other author could have written. Come on, Jeff Strand and Sasquatch? What more are you waiting for?


Book Review: “Cyclops Road” by Jeff Strand

“Hey, after work do you wanna see a movie, get a couple of drinks, maybe slay a Cyclops?”

cyclopsCyclops Road, by Jeff Strand, is a bizarre little adventure that toes the line of the suspension of disbelief almost the entire novel. A road-trip adventure, complete with strange occurrences that may or may not have to do with the actual plot, your only requirement when cracking this one open is to jump in the passenger’s seat and not worry too much about the destination, because its the journey that you’ll enjoy.

Strand cements his place in the bizarre sub-genre of horror / comedy once again, introducing wacky characters with some delicious dialogue. While certainly entertaining, there were definitely more moments in this than any of his other works I’ve read that caused me to question not only the world he created here but the actions of the characters within it. I almost felt like that backseat driver, brought along for a road trip, who doesn’t really identify with everyone else who’s traveling together.

That being said, Strand, along with his characters, definitely commit to this one. While not my favorite book of his, it’s a worthwhile read and a light-hearted adventure that won’t soon be forgotten, one I’m not sure anyone BUT Strand could have pulled off.

Book Review: “Blister” by Jeff Strand

I don’t give out five star reviews lightly. There has to be something special about a book to earn all that gold, to make it onto the shelf of books that can’t be forgotten — not because you don’t want to forget them, but simply because they CAN’T be forgotten.

blisterI’ve watched Jeff Strand’s new novel, Blister, hover in the #1 spot on Amazon for “Horror-Comedy” — an absurd category, if ever there was one — since it’s release, but I was hesitant with picking this one up. While I love Strand’s writing, the premise didn’t necessarily grab me. Or maybe it was the cover? Or the title? But … I eventually caved.

(See how strong my willpower is folks?!?)

Let me tell you, this is one that deserves the sales and popularity it’s receiving.

Strand has constructed a seemingly simple story, but one with more depth than should ever be allowed in a “horror-comedy.” And don’t let that genre label fool you — this is literary fiction with a dark slant matched with Strand’s talented ear for dialogue and humor. Plenty of surprises that were all organic to the story, but it’s the characters that sweep you along, and with Blister, Strand has created some pretty unforgettable ones.

A novel that was a simple joy to read and experience, for anyone who’s been sitting on the fence with this one, do yourself a favor and pick it up. I can’t imagine ANYONE being disappointed with this one.