"According to the legends, on Planet Earth there are nine gates to hell. Most of the gates are scattered across America--insane asylums, cult clearings--"Mike Duran's novel, The Telling, is the wit. It's sideways, dry, often unexpected, and it rises naturally from the characters and the events. And some of it -- humor dropped into a dark situation -- has a Southern or country twang, which reminds me of stories told by older kin back home in Arkansas:
"Retirement homes," Zeph deadpanned. (p114)
"Mr. Duty." The world seemed to wait for Zephaniah's words. "The Lord has this for you."Or an armadillo in the ditch.
The congregation drew a single collective breath. And held it.
Zephaniah spoke the words just as he'd heard them.
Blaise Duty looked like he'd been punched in his soft, spongy gut. The color drained from his orange-tinged skin, and his bottom lip began to tremble.
..."Loree-e-e," was the last thing he said before spinning like a corkscrew onto the carpet and falling flat on his back, as dead as a possum on the center line of the 395. (p150)
Despite the California setting, there's a Southern gothic feel to this novel. That's all right by me. Done well, that dark, moody atmosphere adds mystery rather than melodrama, and serves the story.
It also enables even the not-so-spiritually-inclined the reader to suspend disbelief and accept fantastical elements as if they were a matter of course.
"Ah! The dark angel craves one thing--to be like man. And to be like man, it needs but one thing--the breath of life. If this one had finished its feast, Brother Walker's body would have been disposed of--a fully formed ectype would have developed, an angel become man. It would have blended into your society without notice. In the case of Brother Walker, few would ever know it."And:
..."The world is growing dark. Soon the night will fall when no one can stand. All will become enemies. Friend and foe... ." (p169)
Little Weaver closed his eyes. He drew a breath and straightened. "My name is Little Weaver, heir to Big Weaver. He guarded the gateway to the underworld, heir to those before him. Long before the miners came with their tools and their lust for wealth. Long before the scientists with their calculations and careless tinkering. We watched. We waited for the wielder of wild magic. The Branded One who would close the gateway forever." (p171)
And that is the crux of the tale.
But we'll discuss that further tomorrow.
For other perspectives and more in-depth reviews of The Telling, check out these other stops along the tour:
Jim Armstrong Noah Arsenault Beckie Burnham Brenda Castro Jeff Chapman Christine Theresa Dunlap Cynthia Dyer Victor Gentile Nikole Hahn Bruce Hennigan Jason Joyner Julie Carol Keen Emileigh Latham Meagan @ Blooming with Books Rebecca LuElla Miller Anna Mittower Kathleen Smith Donna Swanson Jessica Thomas Steve Trower Dona Watson Shane Werlinger Phyllis Wheeler