See? I told you I review other people’s books!
This one in particular was handed to me in person back in August. I must apologize to the author, Kevin Flanders, for taking so long to get to it; The Count of Monte Cristo takes FOREVER to read when you’ve got a job and kids as well.
Now, to the book: Burn, Do Not Read! By Kevin Flanders. I have to start off by saying that I didn’t necessarily hold any hopes for this novel, as it was self-published, and as you may know, such books are a hit or miss. As I began reading, I was afraid it might be a miss; the font changed back and forth between two or three different types, the speaker changed what tense he was speaking in, and the format of the paragraphs was broken at very odd places, breaking up the flow of reading. I WAS given a “Sample Copy,” however, so I will give the author the benefit of the doubt. The tense issues mostly ceased by the second or third chapter, and the flow got much better. Basically, all I am saying here is that the book, as I was given it, could use the touch of an experienced editor.
As to the MEAT of the story itself, I will tell you that while I don’t generally go for the suspense/thriller genre, this book definitely qualifies as such. I was engrossed. The story follows the heartbreaking case of Jack Gibson, a grandfather and recovered alcoholic, who dives dangerously close back into alcoholism when he accidentally hits and kills a 6-year-old boy with his truck one day. The incident serves to haunt Jack throughout the rest of the book, despite the best efforts of his loving wife Mary, who in turn dies herself a year later. The combined tragedy drives Jack to decide to leave his life behind and move into a house (which he buys online, sight-unseen but for internet photos), clear across the country, much to the consternation of his family members.
The house is desolate, lonely, creepy, and (I don’t care what anyone else says) totally freaking haunted. Once Jack has moved, his life seems to jump from livable and almost carefree to a nightmare in his own home, due to the strange sounds and loss of lights… not to mention the constantly-howling coyotes and the scary stories he’s heard about the previous occupants of his little house in the woods. I don’t want to give away the story in its entirety, but I will say that I read on the edge of my seat quite often, and found myself wondering what would happen next, even while out taking a walk on my own. I was eager to read more, and the plight of Jack being torn between the enticing “sanity” that could be brought back to him by alcohol or the fight with whatever demonic figure was possessing his house was one I could not wait to finish.
Alas, the book does end. I was on the edge of my seat up until the second-to-last chapter, when the nail-biting terror suddenly stops. I have to say that the ending was terribly anticlimactic. So much build-up… it was frustrating to read. I felt like the story had no tangible resolution, and we are left to wonder what actually happened in the creepy house in the dark woods.
Still, the rest of the book is totally worth the read. And if you are of a religious tendency, perhaps you can make your own meaning from the end of the story. I, personally, am going to let my imagination run wild and start drawing monsters in my sketchbook.