Mr. Shivers audiobook
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October is always a good time for horror novels, and as such, Robert Jackson Bennett’s Mr. Shivers seemed like a perfect fit. Set in the Great Depression, the book follows a man as he pursues the titular figure, a nameless entity that’s leaving a trail of horrific death in his wake. Pure horror, right? Well, not exactly. Oh, the book undeniably has some horror elements, but it’s as influenced by The Grapes of Wrath as it is Stephen King, bringing a literary feel to its depiction of desolation and wandering drifters in search of hope and purpose. That all comes together in the ending, which eschews horror tropes for something more complex, ambitious, and stranger. The result has left some horror fans dissatisfied, and I suppose I understand why – this isn’t a true horror novel, but something more “literary” and odd, and the prose can come across as excessive at times. And yet, unlike so much “literary” horror, it doesn’t hold its nose at the genre, instead delivering something that satisfies both the English teacher part of my soul and the horror fan. It’s an odd bird, and not precisely what I expected, but that didn’t make it less compelling or intriguing.
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I believe that this is Robert Jackson Bennetts premiere novel and it is an incredible start for a highly talented author. Set during the Great Depression and Dust Bowl days, the author creates a tone and mood that brings you deep into this world, but with a twist of horror hanging over our central character in an already difficult world. I could taste the dust of the railways as they moved from town to town.
I find this book somewhere reminiscent of The Stand by Stephen King, but set within its own unique universe with Bennetts surprises. Great ending…
Audiobook Mr. Shivers by Robert Jackson Bennett
I quit with the description of the pig slaughter. It’s good for people to have this sort of thing portrayed so graphically if one eats meat but it was the height of my tolerance for the entire grim story that verges from what I thought was period crime fiction, to horror. The author clearly knows his craft but 2020 has already been enough for me. On to something more optimistic for me I think.
Audio Mr. Shivers narrated by T. Ryder Smith
A man loses his beloved daughter to a man with a scarred face. He sets out to find his daughter’s killer across the Dust Bowl of the American Southwest in the 1930s and encounters others who wish vengence on the scarred man.
That’s basically the plot of Mr. Shivers. In the hands of a competent first-time novelist like Robert Jackson Bennett the story could have made a mildly interesting take on the serial killer genre. But Mr. Jackson had something different in mind.
Instead of the usual plot devices that go into the hunt for a killer type of stories, Jackson invests his story with something far different. He gives the story a mythic feel. It’s as if Odysseus, rather than sailing around the Mediterranean after the battle of Troy, found himself riding the rails as a Depression Era hobo.
Jackson pulls off a daring piece of writing here, layering each new character or setting or revelation with mythic qualities until by the end of the book, the struggle between Connelly and his followers and the titular Mr. Shivers becomes both epic and mythic. It’s not a story for everyone. Many readers prefer their serial killers grounded in the world of man and not the realms of gods and demi-gods. For me, half the fun of reading Mr. Shivers was in pairing the characters with their mythological counterparts.
This novel is an astonishing debut and I’m definitely looking forward to what Mr. Jackson will produce next!
Free audio Mr. Shivers – in the audio player below
Robert Jackson Bennett is one of my top 5 favorite writers. I have loved the Foundryside and Shorefall books, and American Elsewhere, and I suppose everything but The Troupe. This did not disappoint. I prefer stories from the worlds Bennett creates, but with his talented prose even depression-era Oklahoma is mysterious and strange. Read this book, before youre overtaken with your own obsessions.
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