Season of Waiting by Jim Christopher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Author’s Journal | Pen Date 2.10.22 | TW: Euthanasia, Violence, Death, Language, Drug Use, Animal Violence
Have you read Season of Waiting? What were your thoughts? Let me know!
Coming across Season of Waiting was a pleasant happenstance as part of my commitment to the Reedsy Discovery program, which focuses on reviewing and supporting indie authors and publishers.
Its sequel, Sick as Our Secrets – coming out 02.22.22 – is a novel that I have the pleasure of advance reviewing, but to do it justice, and combat my OCD, I had to bust out the prequel.
Season of Waiting tells the story of three main characters: brother (Wes), sister (Irene), and their father (Caleb), who is dying from pancreatic cancer.
Caleb, along with anal-retentive analytical daughter, Irene, have just finished coordinating his “Final Release.” New Mexico’s legal euthanasia program. It’s a tough decision, but Caleb doesn’t want to put his kids through what they went through with his wife’s cancer.
Meanwhile, Wes excuses himself from opioid/narcotics rehab to see his father. Except, he’s not thrilled with his dad or sister when he learns of the “Final Release.”
Tensions flare as siblings verbally joust over the decision. Overbearing Irene doesn’t believe Wes should have any say after all the hardship he’s caused the family. But Wes, thinks he’s earned a chance to speak his piece.
Then everything turns on its head when Caleb hears a voice in his right ear – which he’s been deaf in for decades. It tantalizes him with this notion that he possesses a larger purpose. A purpose that must result in finding a boy whose fate is intertwined with the end of the universe.
Skeptical yet fearful of the inevitable, Caleb begins to believe the voice when it rips him from his body to show him a multiverse of possibilities.
However, Irene is not pleased to hear about her father’s journey, her data tells her it can’t be real, and he’s losing his mind. Meanwhile, Wes wholly believes the voice and sees it as a chance for his own grander purpose. So, Wes and Caleb run off to find this boy, who they learn can heal living beings with nothing but his hands.
In the end it’s a race against time. Can Wes and Caleb find the child before Irene catches them, or even worse, before time runs out for Caleb?
There’s a lot to love in Christopher’s debut novel, but what stood out to me was the pacing, character development, and how he writes the supernatural abilities of this world.
Pacing can be tricky for multi-POV novels, but it seems Christopher is a pro. The narrative hops back and forth between a small enough cast to set the hook but not lose readers’ interest. In this way, he generates suspense as readers will want to get back to previous POV’s.
I loved the contrast of how he developed Irene and Wes’ characters. Irene is a cold and calculating woman. Whereas Wes is taking each day a step at a time, trying to find himself and working towards being a better man. Irene, having been victimized by Wes in the past, cannot look beyond the data, and all that data says, don’t trust Wes – no matter what.
Closing out the good, we have Christopher’s ability to write these mystical abilities! Rather than over-explaining, Season of Waiting keeps the supernatural broad and vague enough for readers to assimilate into their own schemas.
At 438 pages this is a longer book than it needs to be. The writing is verbose, especially for scenery descriptions. That said, Christopher’s writing is brilliant, he’s definitely a wordsmith, but I think an editor could have shortened things up.
Then there’s the first two chapters, which are essentially prologues. And they’re a bit tough.
SPOILER WARNING BELOW
The book opens on the magical child, whose powers are demonstrated through a gut-wrenching opening scene. He and his mother are forced to surrender their dog, only to see it mauled to near-death (mostly off-the-page).
Thankfully, the dog lives, but it’s not a very fun couple of chapters for dog lovers.
Hey you. Yeah you. There’re spoilers below.
I enjoyed the twist of having to kill the child and was glad to see Caleb struggle through the decision. Part of me thought he was going to go through with it.
For the first time, I feel bad for Irene, who won’t get closure from her father or Wes. But, at this point it doesn’t seem she would’ve believed either, even if there had been an abundance of hard evidence.
Early on I got some vibes akin to Dean Koontz’s From The Corner of His Eye, which I nearly DNF’ed. Thankfully, Christopher turns out something much more digestible and suspenseful.
I want to say five stars. But, if I’m being honest, it’s just not. That said, Christopher is a damn good writer with very capable skills.
Still, something’s missing. Maybe it’s the lack of closure regarding the voice, how it works, and who it belongs to? I can’t say for sure. But, I will wholeheartedly say, it’s a solid four that’s well worth the read.
Check Out My Review of the sequel “Sick As Our Secrets” Here
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