As seen on Stumptown Books
This is a quick read, clocking in at only 70 pages - although that's an estimation my Kindle gave me, as this is only available in e-book format. I don't normally spring for indie or self published works, because it is so hard to find the diamond in the rough. However, this author is very congenial and decided to exchange a few copies for reviews. I decided to go ahead and grab one since the premise sounded right up my alley.
For some reason, based upon the cover and the title, I was convinced it was a book of short stories, maybe set in the 1700 or 1800s. I was so far off the mark it's incredible! It is actually set in a slightly different modern day world, with two main characters who get up to hilarious illegal and death defying shenanigans. It's also definitely classified as a "novella" and there are no short stories involved.
I loved the first 3/4 of this novella. It started off a little slow, but rapidly picked up the pace and I couldn't wait for the other shoe to drop. The unrepentant protagonists, whom no one would define as the "good guys," had me smiling at their violent antics. I wanted them to be punished but I also wanted them to continue their crime spree.
Unfortunately, at about 75% in, the "twist" completely lost me. A lot of stuff was thrown at us that we had no reason to care about. It also finally became clear at this point that the story doesn't take place in our world, but some sort of parallel, where Chicago has been nuked. I'm not sure why this was necessary, nor why Christianity came into it, nor why we're suddenly supposed to care about Cranston's depressing past, which is only briefly mentioned in italics at the top of chapters. It ended up feeling like it needed another rewrite.
There were also a number of typos, which was frustrating. It made the entire book feel unpolished, and the rushed ending reflected that. There is an extended ending available at the author's site
, but I don't recommend it, as it doesn't fit with the rest of the story at all.
Overall, brilliant premise, with great word play and characterization, but the story got lost in the details. The price tag of $2.99 for a 70 page novella that's not even properly edited is a bit steep. I'm definitely interested in what else this author might publish in the future though, as he obviously has a wonderfully twisted mind.