Monday, July 20, 2009

Prodigal Blues

This is an incredibly gripping book. If you read it, it won’t always make you happy but I would recommend it as strongly as anything I’ve put on this site.

Prodigal Blues was written by Gary A. Braunbeck, who has become known for his horror fiction. There is nothing of the supernatural here, just the even more menacing horrors that humans can inflict on one another.

Mark Seiber is a college janitor with a degree in English. On a road trip to settle an inheritance issue, he “rescues” a little girl who has been missing for some time. The last thing the girl tells him as the police take custody of her is a bewildering “I’m sorry.” Seiber soon understands what this means, as he is captured by four more lost children, who, along with the little girl who set him up, were kidnapped by a monster (a human one) they know as Grendel. Grendel has sexually abused them, pimped them out, and surgically scarred them for his amusement. He is the embodiment of human evil, vile enough to leave Hannibal Lector curled in the fetal position, sobbing in a corner. The children, the only survivors of dozens of children taken, want Mark to help reunite them with the families they haven’t seen for years…and then to help gain their revenge against Grendel. If he doesn’t do what they say, they will kill Mark and his family. What follows is a horrific road novel, in which the children reach whatever varied levels of peace which is left to them, and Mark learns a lot about himself.

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