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A Reading Vocation

"I Must Read, Read, and Read. It is my Vocation." - Thomas Merton

This is where I chronicle my reading life.  I also blog about writing at Lacey's Late-night Editing.


Book 23/100: Engines of the Broken World by Jason Vanhee

Engines of the Broken World - Jason Vanhee

This book has a strange, dreamlike quality that is entirely intentional. After their mother dies, a brother and sister live alone in the wilderness with a strange cat-like creature that spouts out spiritual advice as a reality-obliterating fog encroaches upon them. This is part dystopia, part-post-apocalyptic, part parallel world, part zombie/ghost story, part religious meditation -- and with all these disparate parts, perhaps it's not surprising that the book does none of them particularly well.

I think the biggest disappointment about this book, for me, was that for a book about a mother's corpse that is reanimated after her children stash it under the table (the ground is too frozen for them to bury her), the creep factor is just not what it should be. As soon as her reason for returning becomes known, it almost disappears entirely -- although there is some gore and creepy descriptions afterward that would probably keep the story consistently scary in a visual medium.

The plot felt a little spotty to me, and although the book was well written, the attempt at an uneducated, pioneer-like dialect was sometimes grating. I also wasn't really sure that it made sense for the people in this world to talk that way, but I suppose you could make up an explanation for it if you thought hard enough. The ending was a bit of a let-down, which more-or-less means it kept the same tone as the rest of the book. It's the sort of book where the ending could have made or broke it, but this ending is just sort of ... there.

Although far better than a lot of books I've given only 3 stars, it's nothing too special in an already crowded genre.