The Year of the Storm
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The Year of the Storm

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3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  126 ratings  ·  55 reviews
In this haunting, suspenseful debut novel, John Mantooth takes readers to a town in rural Alabama where secrets are buried deep, reality is relative, and salvation requires a desperate act of faith.

When Danny was fourteen, his mother and sister disappeared during a violent storm. The police were baffled. There were no clues, and most people figured they were dead. Only D...more
Paperback, 309 pages
Published June 4th 2013 by Berkley Trade
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karen

i can't help but feel a little tiny bubble of apprehension when short story writers make the big move to the novel, because i worry that they won't be able to sustain the narrative long-form.

but once i saw that Frank Bill, of all people, was comparing this to Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, of all books...i should have known this would be pretty solid.

and it is definitely solid.

i'm not really sure how to classify it. i guess it is "slipstream," even though that is itself a slippery genre, and i...more
Jeffrey Keeten
Jul 02, 2013 Jeffrey Keeten rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jeffrey by: On the Southern Literary Trail
Shelves: horror
”I remember fourteen. Best and worst year of my life. Best because I learned how to be a man. Worst because I forgot how to be a boy.”

I too remember being fourteen. It was the year of my first girlfriend, my first real girlfriend. Stephanie, the girl with the chocolate eyes, in sixth grade really doesn’t count. She did hug me once, a thrilling experience that left me dazed for the rest of the day. My mother was about to tear her hair out because Miss Stephanie was Catholic and I was forbidden to...more
Kemper
(I received a free copy of this from the author in exchange for an honest review.)

This is one that’s tough to review because the official summary doesn’t tell you about a major part of the plot, and that element is such a big part of the story that it’s nearly impossible to talk about the book without discussing it. Looking through the other reviews, it seems like everyone has tried to be cagey about what they’re revealing. I thought about going in that direction, but if you hide all that behind...more
Melki
...I've come to think of fourteen as not only the longest year of my life, but also the most important because it was the last year of childhood and the first year of the rest of my life, a life that would be forever marked as different in subtle and insidious ways from the people around me.
Fourteen was the year my mother and sister disappeared, the year I lost my mind. The year I learned secrets that will stay with me until I am no longer able to think of them.


Well...the book starts out beauti...more
Claudia
I am a huge fan of John Mantooth’s collection of short stories entitled "Shoebox Train Wreck." I can’t see a school bus without thinking of "A Long Fall Into Nothing, and Chicken." John set the bar really high for himself with that group of compelling stories. It was with trepidation that I opened the cover of "The Year of the Storm." I have been disappointed before when a second book falls far short of the first. It was almost painful.
“A storm is a kind of magic.” It’s a simple opening sente...more
Raven
As well as loving crime fiction, I am also a fan of contemporary American fiction, so very much in the vein of Michael Koryta, Wiley Cash and Tom Franklin, The Year of the Storm, not only conforms to the tenets of contemporary American fiction, but also manifests itself as a seamless fusion of crime inflected with a tinge of the supernatural.

This is a beautifully controlled piece of prose which struck me as a very powerful examination of the validity of memory, as adult Danny looks back on the d...more
Christopher Irvin
John Mantooth’s debut novel, THE YEAR OF THE STORM, is a must read for 2013. Seriously, pre-order it here. You’ll be surprised that the novel is his debut – I was when I read his short story collection, SHOEBOX TRAIN WRECK, last year and found that it was his first major publication. The wonderfully dark collection held a strong aura of an established author, one whose work I couldn’t wait to dive back into. Alas, when I searched for another book by Mantooth, all I could find was ‘coming in 2013...more
Bracken
I went in to this novel trying to manage my exceedingly high expectations (almost always certain doom for my opinion of any book) given how much I loved Shoebox Train Wreck. My fear was that I might somehow be setting myself up for disappointment by comparing it unfairly to a short story collection I considered one of the best books of 2012 (and one of my favorite books, period). My fears were unfounded. While it is early in the year, I feel confident that The Year of the Storm will still be in...more
Cathie
Amazing! A story about hatred, about close-mindedness, about life in 1961 in Alabama, about a boy from a broken home, about believing in what the world tells you is not possible, about reconciliation, about murder, about abuse, about letting go of the past to make room for the future, about surviving, about the links that are not coincidences but are miracles.

A gripping ethereal read.
Benoit Lelievre
So, this is interesting because it's a story that's been told before. Not only there has been Southern Gothic coming-of-age novels before, but it's one of the most popular subgenres of Southern writing there is, period. THE YEAR OF THE STORM is such an interesting coming-of-age novel to me, because it's a thoroughly rebellious one, that hates the idea that adults can even fathom the idea of having some kind of wisdom to share. If there is such a thing as an anti-coming-of-age, THE YEAR OF THE ST...more
Nicholas Kaufmann
Mantooth's debut novel shows a sure and steady hand in creating a fully believable, literary coming-of-age story peppered with hints of the supernatural. He writes compelling characters with authentic motivations and emotions, all in an evocative, confident voice. Don't miss this one. It's a strong contender for best novel of the year.
Kimberly
Loved this book. Read it in less than a day. I didn't know what to expect and was blown away. I wish I could slip some days.
Kevin Lucia
Too often "dark fiction" is a cipher for stories about the meaningless of life - that it's empty and devoid of purpose, and it's a rare author who can take readers through a dark and sometimes disturbing journey, nudge them close enough to the edge so they can look into the abyss below...but pull them back and offer them hope at the end.

John Mantooth is one of those authors, and as he did in his short story collection Shoebox Train Wreck, he walks this line in The Year of the Storm, showing us...more
James  W. Powell
Rarely am I so on the fence about a book that I enjoyed reading. John Mantooth's debut novel, The Year of the Storm, is definitely a gripping coming-of-age story, one that works on many levels. So much mystery and suspense takes place in those Alabama woods, that it was hard to put down, and I often grew upset when real life interrupted my reading.

However, the ending...I just don't know. It simply didn't work for me as well as I'd hoped. I've thought about the book many times since I finished i...more
Shrimpette
I won this in a first reads giveaway.

It makes me feel strange looking at all of the five and four star reviews.. I'd like to know what they saw in this book that I didn't. If I hadn't won this book, I honestly wouldn't have had it in me to even finish it. But I felt obligated to get to the end so I could leave a proper review.

I didn't feel a connection to any of the characters. None of them were very well defined.. The personalities didn't differ enough to leave a remarkable impression on you. I...more
Dev Jarrett
Great book. To be honest, I may have set the bar prejudicially high. I saw the cover, read "Coming-of-age story...in Alabama..." and it's not fair, but the first novel that came into my mind was Robert R. McCammon's _Boy's Life_. I cut my teeth on King and McCammon in the 80s, so I jumped into the book with absurdly high hopes.

_The Year of the Storm_ lived up to the expectations. The characterization was honest, the word choice was downright lyrical, and I loved the central image of the storm a...more
Suspense Magazine
Dueling timelines, twisting plots, and flawed yet alluring characters are a surefire way to grab my attention. And debut author, John Mantooth, did just that.
In rural Alabama, the end of summer for fourteen-year-old Danny should be a gentle time. But it isn’t. It’s the year of the storm—a vicious year that Danny at any age will never forget and he finds this year the most difficult to comprehend as he leaves behind his shredded innocence.
Danny sits one stormy night, trying hard to ignore his p...more
Max Everhart
I'm a pre-maturely middle-aged curmudgeon, who no longer enjoys reading coming-of-age stories. There, I said it.

Now let me say something else: The Year of the Storm, a crime/horror/literary coming-of-age novel, is a fantastic book. Told through two perspectives, one a fourteen year old boy named Danny, the other an old man named Walter, the story revolves around two missing people: Danny's mother and sister, who are presumed by many to be dead. When the novel begins, Danny is desperate to know w...more
Sundra
Loved it; not expecting a supernatural thriller but very good. Combine Leif Enger (Peace Like a River)
with Joe Hill (Heart Shaped Box)--interesting combination.
Shellie (Layers of Thought)
Original review posted at Layers of Thought.

Shellie’s quick take: A complexly interwoven and otherworldly mystery that is also a dark coming-of-age story. It centers around the events leading up to several devastating tornados and a painful loss.

Shellie’s description: Set near some woods in Alabama, Danny and Walter are on the verge of being forced into becoming adults. Danny’s mother and sister have disappeared before a powerful storm and Walter and his friend Seth are targets from violent and...more
Jim
THE YEAR OF THE STORM is a psychological thriller that asks the question, is it possible to lose your grasp on the reality we call normal and slip, not into a reality that doesn’t exist, but into another dimension that exists alongside of our own?

When Danny was fourteen years old his mother and younger sister disappeared during a severe storm. Everyone else, even his Dad, gave up on finding them. Most people thought that they were dead, but Danny believed differently; he still had faith that the...more
Lexy
I won this book as a give-away by the Southern Lit Book Club. Thanks Mr. Mantooth! This is not the typical type of book I generally read but none the less I am glad I stepped out of my genre to read this. This novel shows signs of Stephen King, who I gave up reading when he had the young boy killed in one of his novels, made it look like a dream and then went through the whole processing of the boy being killed again by a fourteen wheeler. I have forgotten the name of the book and don't even wan...more
MSJ
GR defines two stars as "it was OK" and that is pretty much how I feel about The Year of the Storm. This book had a lot of elements that I thought would make a great book: the south, coming of age, mysterious disappearances, etc. But for many reasons I failed to really enjoy and appreciate it. Instead of picking apart this book and listing all the things that did not work for me, I will focus on my main criticism and that is the narrative style. This book is told via the two narratives of Danny...more
Cheryl
"Slipping away, just a heartbeat from disaster..." - Black Sabbath

"The Year of the Storm" is a dark coming-of-age tale with large quantities of horror and fantasy thrown in.

The story is told from the varying viewpoints of 14 year old Danny, whose mother and autistic little sister are missing, and grown-up Walter, who used to be 14 years old (and that's part of the story).

Amazing characterization, eerie low notes throughout the tale, a setting in rural Alabama, storms of the century throughout th...more
Wayne
The Year of the Storm is a Coming-of-Age story filled with violence, dysfunction, magic, and madness. A good summer, southern gothic, a quick read and a suspenseful page-turner. Like Shutter Island, you are left to question the reliability of the narrator - haunted over events that happened when he was 14. He tells the story of the life-changing events that continue to haunt him 16 years late. But we can quickly see the limitations of memory as time, details, some unsavory characters, his own fr...more
Navem
My sister won this in a Goodreads giveaway and lent it to me after she finished reading it. She didn't much care for it and gave it a low score. I read the back and could not wait to start it.
I LOVED it. I was sucked in right away and loved the MC's and their stories. The book may seem confusing because it does switch between two of the MC's view points and at different points in their lives. But I think the author did an amazing job at this. I was not confused and he weaved such an amazing stor...more
Krista
If any of you are looking for some page turning summer reading, I highly recommend John Mantooth's debut novel "The Year of the Storm." Southern-gothic at its best, the spare but powerful prose drives this intense narrative that captures the mysteries of the South in only ways a Southern author can. Convincingly intertwining characters and stories across decades, Mantooth's characters are complex, intriguing, and powerful. In a world scarred by both natural and human made evil, Mantooth's protag...more
Clare
I was seriously stunned to see that this was John Mantooth's debut novel, this guy can write! His style and prose are so confident and assured that I couldn't believe this was his first offering (although I understand he has written a collection of short stories)

This book was a thrilling read from beginning to end, its about growing up, love, family, doing the right thing no matter how difficult it can be and small town intolerance. There's also a bit of magic thrown in and the ending is ambiguo...more
Kurt Dinan
There's something incredibly satisfying about reading a debut novel and knowing - KNOWING - that the author is destined to be one of the greats. John Mantooth's The Year of the Storm clearly puts him in that category. The novel has it all: a gripping story, beautiful writing, and that undefinable perspective that makes a work only one person could ever write. TYotS is one of those books that left me jealous of Mantooth's accomplishment in the best ways possible. I can't wait to see where he goes...more
Michelle
I have to say that this is one of the weirdest books I have read so far this year. Was it reality or was what happened just in Danny's imagination. I've sat on this for a couple of days and I have gone back and forth on what it was and I really can't decide 100%. It's something you have to read for yourself and decide on. I highly recommend the book, it's quite fascination. I look forward to reading more from John Mantooth.
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“A dark and mysterious southern-gothic story with hints of Tom Franklin’s Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter and Stephen King’s novella The Body, John Mantooth’s voice is masculine and powerful, flavoring the pages with the Alabama wilderness, the turmoil of family and how all of these elements work to shape and nurture teenage boys into men.”--Frank Bill, author of Crimes in Southern Indiana and Donn...more
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“There is a between place. The trees know it. It happens at dusk at that perfect moment between light and dark, when the air is festooned with shadows and the atmosphere is heavy with possibility. here things are in balance, the world is a slate, without even the slightest tracings of the scarred markings you used to believe dictated the way of things.” 1 likes
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