Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Taking Jezebel by Patrick Kelly

"It rarely takes more than a page to recognize that you're in the presence of someone who can write, but it only takes a sentence to know you're dealing with someone who can't."

That's a quote from this article by screenwriter Josh Olson. (The spirit of that article has nothing to do with this review, by the way.) Upon starting Taking Jezebel it was readily apparent that Patrick Kelly can write, and very well. But the deeper I got into the book, the more I noticed that Kelly is a writer who also needs to learn how to kill his darlings. There were many pet phrases--while sometimes lovely--that really needed to be exterminated with extreme prejudice. For example:

The [batwing] doors swung--violently, at first--then slowly sank back into place, losing their momentum, and settling against one another like quarreling lovers who were finally ready to admit their unremitting interdependence.

Lavishing this much attention on a minor detail imbues the action of doors swinging shut with undue significance. This sort of thing happens fairly often throughout Taking Jezebel, and there are action scenes that get muddied with this type of overblown description.

The above passage also illustrates another thing I, at times, found distracting about Kelly's writing. Sometimes--sometimes--his word choices are a bit iffy. The word 'sank' has no place in the sentence above. Nothing is sinking here. Nothing is doing anything like sinking here.

Overall, I liked Kelly's writing and I liked this book. There are three or four really cool narrative twists that honestly took me by surprise. He's not afraid to play with reader expectations. And I like that a lot. This had some great things going for it story-wise. Yes, there were a few things I didn't quite buy. One character escapes too easily from a situation. A major event is never adequately revisited or explained. Everything stops so that the villain can give the obligatory villain-speech at the end. However, the good far outweighs the not-so-good here.

This book has a variety of satisfying horror goodies crammed into it, and I look forward to reading whatever Mr. Kelly unleashes next.

Note: I received an electronic copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest (non-reciprocal) review.

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