Note: This review is a bit shorter than most, as Blade Man is a novella and a very quick read. It is also rather suspenseful so in effort not to give anything away, my comments will be brief, although my praise is high for this novella.
Most of the time, I avoid anything classified as or even remotely related to Horror. The genre… well it impacts me. It sort of gets my imagination going a bit too much; all sounds suddenly morph into sounds a murderer is making while he is slowly creeping towards me to deliver me my doom. Yes, it gets quite ridiculous and stressful hence my hesitation. However, I didn’t look too closely at the genre of this novella. I normally don’t, and I am very glad that I didn’t. If I had, I probably would have shied away from it and thus missed an excellent piece of fiction.
The Good: The setting. The setting could not have been more mundane or more perfect for this story. I believe it was the mundane-ness that perhaps made it all the more spooky. It is set in the middle of a blinding blizzard – or a howler, as the protagonist so often reminds us. A blizzard, believe it or not, is the perfect setting for this story. Vision is blurred, as are the lines of reality. The ambiguous nature created by this setting really sets the mood for the whole story – a mood that is crafted with great care…. and with a truly wonderful result.
The voice of the protagonist was also very unique. I enjoyed his crassness and it added a whole other dimension to the story.
The build up of suspense was also wonderfully done. Words and phrases were often repeated and I found that this really helped to expertly build up the tension. There was also one crucial moment, one that I am not going to specify for sake of not spoiling the book, that was absolutely amazing. It continued with the theme of ambiguity and also scared me.
The end. It blew me away! I really don’t want to give too much away, but it was very well crafted. I was once told that a good ending should be surprising, but at the same time entirely logical, given the world of the story. I believe that McDaniel’s had heard that somewhere once before as well …. in any case, he accomplished just that.
I just really found myself amazed at the plot unfolding and the true depth to it. It was also easy to read, yet the writing didn’t come off as trivial due to the true, real sounding voice of the protagonist. It’s also a memorable story – one that I will not be forgetting any time soon, if ever.
The only negative I found is that at very rare points, the main character’s voice can become a bit unsteady. That is to say, he is portrayed as a gruffer man, speaking in vernacular. The picture I had in my mind was of someone not overly educated and a bit “old school”. For example, McDaniels writes “innernet” instead of “internet” when this character is speaking. I believe this is the persona that we are meant to imagine. Occasionally, the character will use a phrase or word that somewhat goes against this; words that I would assume to be beyond his vocabulary. However, this is rare and it does not distract from the other wonderful qualities of this story.
Don’t Read if: McDaniels himself warns not to read at night if you are home alone. I, however, did not heed this warning. I was alright, but I definitely think it should be said that it might make the reading experience less spooky… something I probably would have been okay with. So you may want to keep that in mind. If you aren’t a fan of suspense or stressful reading, this is definitely not the novella for you. Also, if you are looking for something longer, this will not be a good choice. It is a very fast read, even for a novella.
Read: Even if horror usually isn’t your thing, I encourage you to take a look in to this. The murky sense of ambiguity and suspense are what really makes this novella great – something that most people can really appreciate. If you are looking for a quick read, this would be perfect. The writing is light but still smart, and the content/suspense drives you to devour the novella. I read it easily in one sitting, mostly because I just couldn’t put it down.
Thanks for reading! And just in case you do happen to read this novella and you happen to enjoy it, I thought I would mention that we have more work from Edison McDaniels in addition to this piece. I am in the process of reading it now, so stay tuned for a review on that. The title is Not One Among Them Whole: A Novel of Gettysburg, and I am really enjoying it so far.
Thanks again! And I hope you all have a marvelous weekend!
The original posting of this review can be viewed at DEFINITELY NOT FOR THE BIRDS