William Thomas's Reviews > Ghost Road Blues

Ghost Road Blues by Jonathan Maberry
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's review
Oct 20, 10

bookshelves: horror, crime
Read from October 17 to 20, 2010

Jonathan Maberry, prior to the writing of this novel, had produced quite a few non-fiction books on cage-fighting and martial arts. This may be how he sharpened his skills in writing very fluid and believable action sequences. However, I wasn't expecting a multitude of fight scenes, hand-to-hand combat prose, or this many shoot-outs. I think Maberry got carried away with himself, forgot he was writing a horror novel, and instead channeled Richard Stark into the book, writing a Parker novel instead of what I would consider an award-winning horror book.

It begins strong, heavy on characterization through action instead of through telling- he speaks to the reader with the prose instead of at the reader like so many current writers. It comes with a few quick scares, an interlude of back-story written in a fairly poetic form of prose that stands out in the book and makes it seem as if it belongs in a short-story collection instead of as the precursor to events transpiring in Ghost Road Blues. What begins darkly turns almost into silliness as we can see it quickly become something like a police procedural with all the hallmarks of current crime novels. There is little to do with the horror genre for 100 pages at a time when it seems he realizes this and inserts something ghostly as an afterthought. You can almost see him writing this as a screenplay first and adapting it from there, directed by Tony Scott or some other equally "brutal visionary". It takes away from the prose, from a strong and literary opening and all the promise of the book withers dramatically around page 225.

My largest problems being the 'horror as an afterthought' I still have to say I did not dislike the novel. I feel there could have been at least 100 pages chopped out of this thing with a chainsaw, preferably right in the middle of the book, and the ragged ends of it would have made a better book when you taped them together. But it is worth the reading in that it is highly entertaining, and that Maberry avoids all forms of cheesy, television transcript styled dialogue and action. All of the action is fluid, all of the omniscient narrative is driving. It is masterful in one sense, and completely silly in another. I'm not sure that I will be finishing the trilogy, but I will be reading Patient Zero to see what exactly he does with another series and perhaps a more concise and mature novel.
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Reading Progress

10/19/2010 page 259
55.0% "so far it is a compelling read, often lyrical in it's prose and very lucid in it's descriptions. strong character development makes me swoon, especially when it's grounded in real life."
10/20/2010 page 362
77.0% "ok, now I just want it to end. How do you turn a spooky horror novel into a shoot-em-up modern detective/crime story half-way through?"
10/20/2010 page 362
77.0% "ok, now I just want it to end. How do you turn a spooky horror novel into a shoot-em-up modern detective/crime story half-way through?"

Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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OddModicum Rachel huh. That lil tidbit you dropped about Maberry's non-fiction work explains a hell of a lot. I tend to get mired down in long action sequences... get all turned around and have to go back and reread to get the sequence of events down properly, and figure out who the heck is doing what to whom. I was very impressed that I had none of that going on with Maberry's fight scenes. Super vivid and clear and sequential.. almost like watching an action film. Thanks so much for the info! Truly cool detail that explains so much.

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