Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Mr Shivers - book review

Mr Shivers is a dreamy horror. And I don't mean dreamy as in Edward from Twilight is oh so dreamy. I mean the slightly surreal tone you get from half remembered dreams in that moment before you're fully awake. It's a difficult mood to pull off but the author manages it with ease for his debut novel.

During the Great Depression, a disparate group are headed (loosely) by Connelly. This is a man with nothing to lose after the murder of his daughter by the legendary Mr Shivers - a scarred man who haunts the rails and roads of a despairing country.

There's something of The Outlaw Josey Wales in Mr Shivers. It's in Connelly's silent but potentially violent nature (I spent most of the book thinking of Clint Eastwood) and it's in the group of rejects who become Connelly's friends even though his mission is a solely personal one. However, this isn't the redemptive story of Eastwood's Western. This is a vengeance of the darkest kind. Connelly is a man who says he'll return to his wife once their daughter's murder is revenged, but he gives a strong impression of not caring what comes after his revenge.

The locations and feel of a country broken by the Depression are perfectly done; the dreamlike horror is spot on as is the subtlety of Mr Shivers' identity. Nobody needs to state outright who or what he is. He just is and you'd best pray he doesn't notice you.

Mr Shivers is a fine debut and I'm keen to see what this author comes up with next.

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