Monday, December 20, 2010

Dweller by Jeff Strand

When looking back on my life I can pinpoint some pretty important literary moments that changed the way I looked at the whole process of reading. I can clearly trace my development as a reader through titles like It, The Silence of the Lambs, Swan Song and Boy’s Life. I remember the magic associated with all of those experiences and recently, I became painfully aware that it had been years since I last felt “changed” by a novel. Well, that all changed as I read the final page of Dweller.

At its simplest Dweller tells the story of an outcast who finds comfort and companionship in a large jawed, razor clawed monster that resides in a cave in the woods. It has elements of pure horror and dark humor but what really sets the novel apart is the sheer innocence involved. I guess its tough to imagine a story that handles murder, alcoholism, and isolation being terribly innocent but (like all good fairy tales) it takes the macabre and reevaluates it through the eyes of a child. When I read Strand I am reminded of those early King novels where he was able to channel youth and childhood in such an authentic way. The main difference between a book like It and Dweller is that King is able to describe the children while Strand makes you FEEL like a child.

I have been talking to everyone I know about this book and the description does it no justice. I’ll talk about how it traces the life of a boy and his best friend (who happens to be a forest dwelling monster) or how the story can be dark and funny at the same time. Of course, none of my descriptions do any justice to the masterpiece that Strand has created. The magic lies in Strands writing. He weaves words together in such a way that your brain begins thinking like a child again. This makes such a fantastic story so believable. For a few hours Jeff Strand successfully made this jaded 30-year-old feel like a child again and that is quite an accomplishment.

Do yourself a huge favor and pick it up here and head on over to Jeff's site for some good ol' belly laughs.

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