One Bloody Thing After Another
by Joey Comeau
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The cover of this book says just about all you need to know - the plot of this story seems normal at first, like the black cat on the cover, but reality is set on its side, and on second thought, appears slightly sinister. The title, too, is a tongue in cheek clue to the plot. Read it once, it's a mundane complaint. Read it again, and it is a quite chilling warning.
I don't want to delve too much into the particulars of the plot as much of the spine tingling is related to the mystery of what comes next. On the surface, there are three subtly interwoven storylines, here. Jackie sees the world from a slightly different perspective than the rest of us, and marks the landmarks of her life with trees. Having just read Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, I find Jackie to be slightly reminiscent of that book's Melinda. Ann's tale involves her mother and sister, and a problem at home that threatens to consume them. Charlie is a lonely older man who daily encounters a headless ghost on his walks with his ancient dog, Mitchie. These encounters always bring him to the doorstep of Mrs. Richards. Three people, caught in the day to day dealings with problems not quite so day to day. Each wanting to be understood, loved, and heard.
I was enthralled by this book. I couldn't put it down. I wish it were longer. The writing was dreamlike and evoked a sense of normality laced with the unreal, youth touched by agelessness, longing tempered with boredom or perhaps irritation. The author gives us the promise, in part 4 that "Everyone gets their happy ending", but I don't think that any of the endings are quite what one expects.
Although there are definite aspects of horror to this story, they are used to tell a much bigger tale. In considering this book again, it reads like a Brothers Grimm or Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale (not the Disney-fied versions) - a similar mix of the bloodthirsty, the fantastic and the mundane, a story for children, but not quite. I hunger for more books from this author...with big, pointy, blood-drenched teeth, I will devour them. I received a review copy of this book from ECW Press.
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