Thursday, 4 July 2013

"Mr Shivers" by Robert Jackson Bennett, review

The first half really grabbed me. The premise is a doozy, Depression-era hobos on a quest for an evil entity. Think "The Grapes of Wrath" meets Homer's Odyssey. The Coen brother's movie with George Clooney "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?" has already blended these two themes.  The Dust bowl setting is powerful. The hobo code sketches at the start of each chapter was nifty idea.
The language gets a bit self-indulgent (shit, I'm writing a mere blog, I'm no expert), but it's a debut novel, so you cut the guy some slack.
Bennett packs in some atmospheric and wildly cinematic scenes -  the fight in the train car, the night time carnival with the teenage fortune teller (very 40's film noir), the deserted town, the (Grimm's fairy tale) cottage in the middle of the forest where three prophetesses dwell (think Macbeth's three crones or mythical Stygian Witches). Connelly (the man on a quest) reminds me of Stephen King's Roland character, 'the Gunslinger' from "The Dark Tower".
The conclusion was a bit of a metaphysical mishmash, some would say cop-out but I'd still like to try Bennett's later novels. This young author (from hipster mecca, Austin TX) has something, though.


  1. Not realizing I was getting into a Stephen King sort of nightmare, I can't say that I enjoyed this book at all. Too dark, depressing, morbid, monotonous and a not even a surprise ending. thumbs down.

  2. I did like the setting, though.
    His later books are supposed to be better.


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