Nayad Monroe (nayad) wrote,
Nayad Monroe

2007 Books #29: Mr. Hands, by Gary A. Braunbeck

It's official: Braunbeck has a new fan. I loved this book! This is something I don't usually say about horror stories, so take that to mean that the writing was especially good in this one.

Since this is a new book, I don't want to write much about what happens in it, so I'm going to give my general impressions about the way it's written, mostly. It's a horror story, okay? Creepiness ensues! There is a guy who is quite rightfully called "Mr. Hands." Look up the book online to see the cover art and get a clue about what that means.

Anyway... without spoilage... it's hard to decide what to write about first. I like the structure of the book--the order of things, and the way that the characters connect to each other. The writing flows in a descriptive, but conversational way, effortless to read, but hard to stop reading.

I was most impressed by the message I took from the novel, which came through without disrupting the storytelling. Braunbeck fights against child abuse and violence with his fiction, but also shows, as Nietzsche said it, that "whoever fights monsters, should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster." Seeking vengeance leads to mistakes, and the mistakes compound, leading to more harm, rather than the good that is intended. Taking action against wrongdoing is vital, but that action must be clearheaded, and undertaken with full knowledge of the facts; there are times when monsters learn to feel remorse, and mercy is warranted. This message is never heavyhanded, though, and there is enough action, and balancing humor, that the novel avoids preachiness and gives engaging story.

I'm beginning to get a sense of Braunbeck's influences and ideas. There were some Rod Serling-influenced moments in the narrative, I thought, where brief philosophical monologues flowed in (not in a bad way, either). There were mentions of chronos and kairos, different aspects of time that were featured in In Silent Graves. The writing style, on the sentence level, reminded me of some of the better things I've read by Dean Koontz, but the structure was more complex and interesting than Koontz's tends to be, IMO. I'd recommend this book with no reservations for horror fans, and I would encourage others to give it a try if they feel like some gore won't bother them--especially since the gore in this book was noticeable, but not egregious.

ETA: There is a novella called "Kiss of the Mudman" included with the book, as a bonus, and it features some of the characters I liked from the novel, so having that to read is extra-nifty. :)
Tags: 2007 books, gary braunbeck, horror

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