Monday, October 10, 2016

A Desolate Splendor

A Desolate Splendor by John Jantunen
ECW Press: 10/11/16
eBook review copy; 312 pages
ISBN-13: 9781770412040

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 dialogue.

Disclosure: My advanced reading copy was courtesy of the publisher/author.

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