A Desolate Splendor by John Jantunen
ECW Press: 10/11/16
eBook review copy; 312 pages
A Desolate Splendor by John Jantunen is a so-so survival tale told in a western patois.
The opening has a band of some kind of child warrior/savages accompanied
by dogs arriving at the front door of a rural homestead. Then the
narrative switches to a different homestead, with Pa, Ma, the boy, and
their pack of hounds. Then the narrative switches to two different
groups, at which point some plot begins to take a vague shape and form
as it jumps between the groups of people. Touted as a post-apocalyptic
novel, you aren't going to really know/understand this right away. It
could just as easily be historical fiction or alternate history from the
dialect of the characters and the rural life they are living.
The collapse of civilization, the apocalypse, and really most of the
description of the novel are spoiler-ish. I'm of two minds over this
novel. There is no question that Jantunen is technically a good writer
and had a plan for this story. I'm just not sure the story, as it is
told, is successful for me. The description is what kept me reading past
my usual cut-off for a novel that isn't working for me. I kept thinking
it would get better. It is a dark, violent tale of survival and
brutality. There is no real explanation of what happened and why the
unnamed event turned the clock and the vernacular language of the
characters back to reflecting a rural western language pattern. And to
be honest, this dialect quickly became tiring and then annoying for me.
It is also worth noting that there are no quotation marks to denote
My advanced reading copy was courtesy
of the publisher/author.