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Wild Fell (2013)
por Michael Rowe
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Read this for book club and I enjoyed it -- it was pretty creepy. I enjoyed the ambiguity and possible interpretations you could take on the twist at the end. ( )
Wild Fell is a ghost story that starts out well with a scary scene right out of an '80s movie involving two kids late at night on the shore of a lake. Those kids will go on to become part of local ghost lore as the book moves forward in time. The setting involves a creepy old house, an isolated island, remote wilderness, and a small town--all of my favorite horror-story settings, so that all seems promising. There then follows an extended section about the main character, Jamie, as a child and the creepy little girl in the mirror who befriends him and takes care of bullies on his behalf. There is a scene with a turtle that will disturb animal lovers. I enjoyed this exposition and was looking forward to seeing how Jamie would connect back to the house on the island. He does as an adult but first there is quite a bit about him dealing with his father's Alzheimer's disease. By the time he does get up to the lake, after having bought the house unseen, we are running out of book. Jamie spends one frightening night in the house, does some research in town--again, all very standard for a ghost story. And then there is the end. Abrupt, bizarre, and unsatisfying. It feels like after doing all this work to set up the characters and setting and ghosts, the author just decided not to continue with the story. At the very least
By the way, I think Jamie's best friend, Hank, is meant to be a trans character, not a butch lesbian. Pronouns are wrong, but even though this book was published not that long ago, people were still figuring all this out at that time. It's hard to believe how much the culture has changed around trans people in such a short time. I wish Hank had played a larger role in the end as well.
Since I read Enter, Night , I've been wanting to check out Wild Fell. I'm sorry that I waited so long!
Wild Fell is told in such a unique manner , (I love that!), that it's hard to tear yourself away. Normal day to day chores like cooking dinner, doing dishes and such, all fell by the wayside in favor of parking my butt on the couch,(or by the river on my lunch hour), to see where this novel would take me. It took me a number of places, but it finished with me at Wild Fell itself.
Jameson Browning is our protagonist. As a boy he was bullied and had a best friend, a girl named Hank. From there, we follow Jameson throughout his life and finally, his time at Wild Fell. He's a good guy and a good friend and he fell upon hard times-it's easy to like and root for him.
All is not as it seems with Jameson, though, and getting to what is REAL is part of the mystery of this book. It's not a ghost story, it's not a haunted house story....but actually it is both, plus some.
Unlike the author, I do not have the right words to explain how this book made me feel. I will paraphrase from Jack Nicholson and his line from the movie "As Good as it Gets" , this book makes me wish I were a better reviewer.
Highly recommended to fans of quiet horror, dark fiction, mysteries, ghost stories and haunted house tales.
Many of the prologues I read are pro forma and shallow. In the case of Wild Fell, the prologue is more in the nature of a wonderful example of flash fiction. It put me at ease, letting me know I would be in for a good story. The atmosphere hit me just right, as did Rowe’s ability to write characters well. The main story itself was paced well and a thoroughly enjoyable ghost story. I look forward to reading more by Micheal Rowe.
This is an oddly-structured book with weird pacing. There is an overly-long prologue in which the reader is given time to care about a character, before it abruptly ends and the characters in the prologue never show up again except as footnotes to the protagonist's horror story. I'm someone who is easily scared (one of the few in the world who found The Blair Witch Project terrifying, ffs) and this book was only kind of chilling and creepy in parts (mainly the part that was told from the POV of the protagonist as a child). But there was also a lot of exposition that verged on the banal and halfway through I was not at all creeped out, just impatient.
Some solid writing in parts that conveyed a menacing atmosphere, but mostly the writing is dull and prosaic. The final scene where the TRUTH is revealed is so ridiculous, I don't even know what to say. It's a bit of an insult to have spent time with the book and be given THAT. Some really half-baked Freudian undertones meant to increase the dread/horror, I suspect, but it was just crudely done, and without much consideration for the emotional and psychic toll on the kids in question beyond "the return of the repressed" that is explored in a really hamfisted way. So in that sense, it feels opportunistic and gross. Also, all the women characters, be it mothers, ghosts, or butch lesbian best friends "with a man's soul" (?) were terrible and vengeful (because mothers and heterosexual women) or vaguely distant but supportive (because butch lesbian is, as emphasised a few times, not some "radical dyke" as a male character puts it but a cool one who is almost a man). The gender binary is awkwardly sketched out in broad strokes that I thought the latter part of the story and the denouement would redeem it somewhat in terms of "troubling" gender and undoing the earlier narrative voice, destabilising the whole damn thing, but no.
What puzzles me so much is that this book is not uniformly bad; there were parts when it was shaping up to be a real psychological slow-burn of a ghost story, but then it just fizzled. Most unfortunate.
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The crumbling summerhouse called Wild Fell, soaring above the desolate shores of Blackmore Island, has weathered the violence of the seasons for more than a century. Built for his family by a 19th-century politician of impeccable rectitude, the house has kept its terrible secrets and its darkness sealed within its walls. For a hundred years, the townspeople of Alvina have prayed that the darkness inside Wild Fell would stay there, locked away from the light. Jameson Browning, a man well acquainted with suffering, has purchased Wild Fell with the intention of beginning a new life, of letting in the light. But what waits for him at the house is devoted to its darkness and guards it jealously. It has been waiting for Jameson his whole life . . . or even longer. And now, at long last, it has found him. From the Sunburst and Aurora Award-nominated author of Enter, Night comes an unforgettable contemporary ghost story in the classic tradition of Henry James's The Turn of the Screw.
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Sistema Decimal Melvil (DDC)813.6 — Literature English (North America) American fiction 21st Century
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