Chicken Little Was Right


A Book Review of And Then Acid Fell, by AU Gonzales

(Buy it here on Amazon. Visit the author’s website.)

Not acid rain. It’s pure acid that produces third-degree burns on contact and melts concrete, and it pours from the sky for days. The author doesn’t really need to explain why. In the days of the BP oil disaster, global financial crisis, and an ebola epidemic to chill us to the bone, aren’t we all wondering when commercial fertilizer will mix with Fukushima radiation and the newest food additive, to coalesce into something deadly over our heads? Where will you be when acid falls from the sky?

That’s where we enter this story—or stories, I should say—and that’s where Gonzales shows his strength; he spins miniature tales with vivid description and delicately interweaving action. Each character we meet is robust, ranging from a lovable, neurotic hermit to a sniveling, double-crossing coward to an irate, shiv-wielding wife. All players react differently to the sudden catastrophe of the stinking, relentless deluge, and we turn page after page, wondering how each life will change. Or end. Don’t wait for the heroes to save the day or the bad guys to fall in this book, however. Gonzales lets the bad guys off easy, while he can be ruthless with his heroes.

This is a writer to watch, as he hones his skills and stretches his range. He seems willing to take risks and I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next. A reader may not find flawless prose here, this being Gonzales’s debut novel and a little rough around the edges. But, if you’re looking for a fresh young look at the world and surprisingly insightful observations, check out And Then Acid Fell.

Oh, To Read A Cat’s Mind


A Book Review of Sharon, by Eden Rose Archer

(Buy it here on Amazon.)

This author doesn’t speed you through her story, though she begins with the end and gives you a puzzling crime that tugs at your brain immediately. Instead of rushing through what you might at first assume would be an action-packed whodunit, she brings the audience back to wander around in the victim’s shoes, pre-crime, increasing the tension as we near the mysterious…Accident? Murder? Runaway? We’re not even sure there was a victim. Heed the title as sufficient warning.

All we know is what Detective Jone Macy sees upon entering Sharon Smith’s apartment: a cat has been terrified by something it saw (neighbors also heard screams), and a woman appears to be missing, but there is very little evidence to be found and what evidence remains is inexplicable. The detective is stumped and so are we, but we have faith that Archer will explain it all—and quickly, the book is only 43 pages—so we read on. We’re rewarded by being presented with a vibrant, complicated, realistic character with whom to identify, Sharon. We get to know her recent personal, humiliating history, and her thoughts and fears—and since she’s portrayed as a successful, attractive woman, that helps us to love her. The poor thing has insomnia at night and each passing day gets weirder, bringing first odd remarks from strangers and a constant chill (she thinks the heater is simply broken wherever she goes), then hallucinations, and finally physical contact from a being that seems to be non-local, or of another realm.

Archer takes us back to Detective Jone once more, and though she is becoming increasingly frustrated about her inability to solve the mystery, she seems like a tough gal a reader can feel confidence in. By the time the story reaches (or re-reaches) the climactic scene, Archer has built up such suspense that I thought I might go as crazy as ‘ole Jone. She’s given glimpses of something terrifying “watching” and circling our heroine, and that something is about to…

I’m not going to spoil the ending—one simply has to experience it, because it is an experience. At first, I swiped through the last couple pages, knowing there had to be a sequel, an epilogue, something more. Seeing nothing, I was reminded of a high school friend I once knew who threw our assigned reading material across the room upon reaching a frustrating conclusion. I stroked my Kindle and promised not to break it. Which gave me time to ponder. Did I not know what happened to Sharon Smith, or did I not want to know? What had I been expecting—for Eden Rose Archer to reveal to me the deepest secrets to the Universe and beyond? I read too much Deepak Chopra, I suppose. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that Archer had supplied all I needed to let my mind soak in her conclusion, for hours. She let my imagination run away with her ending, and I made it my own.

This story was written with such concrete, engaging language—and an especially good representation of a that scared kitty (don’t worry, the cat makes out pretty well)—that I would recommend it for the pleasure of reading great prose…even if you do have the tendency to throw books.

–Sarah Wathen