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A Wistful Tale of Gods, Men and Monsters by…
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A Wistful Tale of Gods, Men and Monsters

by David Ruggerio

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A Wistful Tale of Gods, Men, and Monsters by David Ruggerio is set in the tiny New York village of Brunswick. It's a postcard perfect autumnal setting, with lovely cider-worthy orchards, fields of giant orange pumpkins, golden rows of corn and wheat, and that close-knit feel that only rural hamlets can offer. Brunswick is also a place full of sinister darkness, where an ancient legend walks the nights.

Things kick off as a group of oblivious tourists head to Brunswick to 'see some ghosts', and see them they do! Joey and Bobby get trapped in the old Hades mansion, the town's former mortuary, and come face to face with the demonic Balin, along with a child spirit. when the little daughter of Gerard Hibler is found butchered in the abandoned cemetery, things take a much darker turn than mere haunted graveyards and mansions.

Young William Willowsby, and his friend Lilly, along with three adults- Sheriff Tom, Jessup, and Beverley- must meet this fearsome nightmare head-on in order to protect their town and stay alive. Desperate to fulfill an ancient ritual to prolong its unnatural life, this creature and its wicked helper turn their sights on one of the daring group.

I found this to be quite an interesting read! My favourite location is the funeral home. Giant stained glass of purgatory? Check. Bizarre door handle shaped like a bony arm? Check. Massive entryway painting of Cronos eating his children? Check. And it was run by man a named Hades of all things!

The novel follows many POVs. The main ones are William, and the brothers Joey and Bobby. Later, Sheriff Tom takes a bigger role. Between them are what I came to think of as snapshot POVs that provide the history of the town, and little vignettes that show us how players both major and minor found themselves a part of the current tale. I enjoyed these tidbits of history and legend of the local region, and the glimpses into the characters' pasts. My favourite of these had to be the radio dj Johnny B, and Sheriff Tom. Hades' was interesting too, and rather sad. These snapshots flowed together with ease, enriching the story at hand.

I felt there could have been a bit more showing than telling in the present day storythread. Also, the very end felt quite Deus ex machina. It kinda came from nowhere, and left me going 'huh'? It did give a certain tertiary character vengeance, but they were never really an active player. My only other qualm is that the manuscript needs another thorough proofing for grammar and spelling. This was an ARC, so I'm sure that will be finished come release! Also, don't get too attached to characters! You never know who's gonna bite the dust!

This was a wonderful ode to the mysteries, fears, and delights of the things that haunt the night. It is a horror novel that blends elements of X-Files, Supernatural, and Stranger Things, that harkens back to old school horror. It made me think of what you might get if directors Tim Burton and Guillermo del Toro collaborated on a book. Recommended if you enjoy horror novels of the slow-build kind with little of the slash and gore action.

***Many thanks to Netgalley and Black Rose Writing for providing an egalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. Reviewed for the San Francisco Book Review ( )
  PardaMustang | Oct 23, 2019 |
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