By Will Bowron
Worth reading 😎
3.5 Stars. A talented voice meets an intriguing premise but drags through verbose scenes in order to deliver a sequel(s).
I loved this premise from the get-go, and Bowron has a talent for the written word. Unfortunately, this gets him (and his editor) into trouble.
Coming in at over 100,000 words, there are a lot of editing gaffes making for an even slower read than the word count suggests.
This feels like a prequel. Too much of the novel is expositional — building the characters, the scenes, and this world. When in actuality, most of the development could have been done more succinctly.
The story lacks any real stakes. Characters end up exactly where you expect them to, which makes the story’s length that much more difficult for the reader. The eventual payoff is pretty low.
In the end, let’s break it down like this:
THE GOOD | Bowron can write. No questions there. He has a strong voice and seems like a natural for expositional storytelling. The premise is incredibly intriguing as a man, wronged by the vigilante underworld, is manipulated into becoming the thing he hates most in the world. His characters are well written and feel unique as each chapter centers on one or another, capturing their individuality.
THE BAD | The story is too verbose and long-winded. This honestly could be a novella or short story and communicate everything much the same.
(I’d love to see Bowron tackle the Fantasy genre, as I think his writing style would be well suited to world-building).
THE CHARACTERS | Taylor is always angry and looking for something to take his anger out on, and that never really changes. Violet gets a hockey mask and some money, but she seems to be the same person at her core. Someone so timid and frightened by consequences that she can be manipulated by anyone. Officer Sanders is always an angry and selfish woman as long as we interact with her (justifiably so). Sam has no redeeming qualities but is well written as a villain. I love the way Bowron shows his internal monolog to be so warped and disturbed.
THE ENDING | There’s no real closure. No resolution. It just sort of ends. As a reader, I never got the sense that the characters grew. Sure they found their ways into new predicaments (and new costumes) but they never really changed as people, for better or worse.
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