TITLE: MR SHIVERS
AUTHOR: ROBERT JACKSON BENNETT
PUBLISHER: ORBIT BOOKS
GENRE: HORROR FICTION
COVER TYPE: PAPER BACK
BLURB FROM THE COVER
It is the time of the Great Depression and thousands have left their home seeking a better life.
But Marcus Connolly is not one of them. He searches for one thing only, revenge. For somewhere out there – riding the rails, stalking the camps – is the mysterious, scarred vagrant who murdered his daughter.
No, Marcus Connolly seeks not a life but a death. The question is, how much is he willing to sacrifice to get it?
By the time the number nineteen crossed the Missouri state line the sun had crawled low in the sky and the afternoon was fading into evening. The train had built up a wild head of steam over the last few miles. As Tennessee fell behind it began picking up speed, the wheels chanting and chuckling, the fields blurring into jaundice-yellow streaks by the track. A fresh gout of black smoke unfurled from the train’s crown and folded back to clutch the cars like a great black cloak.
This is a library book. I had never heard of the author before I liked the title and the blurb on the back cover intrigued me so I decided to give it a shot.
Bennett creates a great sense of place in Mr Shivers. The bleak, decayed and poverty stricken world the characters occupied felt very real to me. The world he created was vivid and memorable. Even though Mr Shivers is set during the great depression in the 30’s or 40’s it had a post-apocalyptic feel like I really liked. It was easy to imagine Connolly and the people he met along the way had survived the end of the world. Mr Shivers reminded me of The Road by Cormac McCarthy and The Dark Tower 1: The Gunslinger by Stephen King. This is a good thing.
I think Bennett did a really good job with the characterisation in Mr Shivers. I got a real sense of who everyone was, even the minor ones who were only on the page for a few pages. Bennett offered insight into their backgrounds and motivations without bogging down the pages with too much detail. The villain, Mr Shivers was one of the best characters in the novel. I was impressed by the revelation that he was actually death and not a man at all. There are hints throughout Mr Shivers that he might not be human. I also liked the sheriff, Mr Shivers’ emissary. He was interesting in a creepy and insane way.
I think the storyline of Mr Shivers was very interesting and original. Connolly meets several people along the way who are also looking for Mr Shivers because he has taken a loved one from each of them. I liked the way Bennett described their journey west and the struggles they encounter along the way. They come across people a few times who appear to be working for Mr Shivers who try to kill them or prevent them from travelling further. The chapters set in the prison when Connolly and his companions ar captured by the sinister sheriff were among my favourite sections.
Mr Shivers is well written. Bennett is a competent writer. His prose was sharp, vivid and memorable. I found myself speeding through the pages because I was enjoying the experience of reading so much. Every word he used as perfect. There were no clunky or overwritten sections. Mr Shivers was a joy to read.
I was impressed by Mr Shivers, Bennett’s debut novel. The horror genre of over populated by crass nonsense and Bennett offers something original and unique. Mr Shivers is fresh and different. I can’t wait to read what he has to offer next. He’s written a novel called American Elsewhere that sounds pretty good.