James Jr.'s Reviews > Fall Leaves and the Black Dragon

Fall Leaves and the Black Dragon by Erik Gustafson
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Aug 16, 12

Read from July 05 to August 15, 2012

Every once in a while you’ll come across a book which confounds the supposed laws of convention by taking its own road. Erik Gustafson’s novel "Fall Leaves and the Black Dragon" did that for me.

I trudged through the first half of the novel, working through our narrator's clumsy teenager voice. That's how teenagers sound, think and act - and I get that, but it wasn't easy. The first half of the book is the recounting of William's nightmarish childhood. He and a friend had been playing with matches (or so they thought), resulting in a fire that left his friend horribly burned. William's parents soon moved the family out of state, and only upon his graduation from high school did they confess that his friend had actually died in the fire – along with his mother - but had kept that awful truth from him all those years.

Calling himself Liam now and trying to solve the nightmares and visions that have plagued him since that fateful fire, he and a new friend take an adventurous road trip and travel back to his former home, seeking answers. What they find are more questions. Eventually, they do find the answers they seek, as well as redemption for more than just Liam.

Ultimately, I am glad to have taken this journey with Liam and the cast of characters because it was such an interesting book, and a compelling payoff. I loved what the author did with the plot twists and turns. There are some well thought-out and imaginative ideas here that I was very impressed with and commend Gustafson for. Much like long road trips that we all take at one point or another, "Fall Leaves and the Black Dragon" definitely made sense and proved to be well-worth the effort once we had reached our destination.
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