At some point, everyone faces a life altering decision. The right choice can lead to success, or at the very least, happiness. The wrong decision can have a more dramatic and permanent impact, and take you down a dark path to destruction.
Sitting on a roadside curb, Phillip is down on his luck. Homeless, dirty and hungry, he is tired of life kicking him when he is down. His luck is about to change. Meanwhile two brothers, maybe not as weary of life, but tired of being broke all the time, take matters into their own hands. A convenience store and a gun in the hands of a nervous person equal a recipe for disaster.
Rekindling a crumbling marriage, James plans a romantic getaway. When things do not go as planned, he leaves and does what every angry man does behind the wheel of a car: speeds. On an icy road in the mountains, anger and speed are a bad combination. With a snowstorm brewing, James must find shelter. A long fall and broken leg makes finding refuge more important. In the middle of the woods sits a makeshift hut, made of tree branches, leaves and packed mud. And what’s inside just might make him wish he were dead.
A young man wrestles with the ghost of his past, an abusive father and a mentally unstable brother. As a last resort, he returns home to confront the evil he left behind. What he finds just may be the end of him.
AJ Brown is a storyteller who pens emotionally charged/character driven stories that often include a touch of dark paranormal. His work has received such honors as a Pushcart nomination, and editor's choice for Issue #12 of Necrotic Tissue. Bards and Sages Quarterly, Liquid Imagination, and Midnight Echo are a few of the literary zines where his stories can be found.
Above all else, AJ is a husband and father of two beautiful children who not only support his creative endeavors, but also provide inspiration (sometimes in rather unexpected ways).
If you'd like to learn more about AJ Brown's life and work, visit his blog: Type AJ Negative. However, beware, AJ is a unique mixture of strawberry Kool-aid drinking redneck and traditional values Southern gentleman. The only things he takes seriously are serious things and he isn't one of them.
I had never read anything by AJ Brown until this small collection of stories, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. The first tale was Phillip’s Story. The story began with an intro to Phillip, a man plagued by delusions, who has been left by his wife and child and who now finds himself in hard straits. He finds money, or rather the money found him, spoils of crime at the scene of a fatal accident. The story then switches to a couple of hard characters, Thad and Hollis, robbing a convenience store and botching the job, a prelude to Phillip finding the money. The story continues to alternate between Phillip, after finding the money, and the thieves during and after the incident-riddled robbery.
The first thing that struck me about this story was how brave the author must be to present a PoV character who is crazy – it is difficult to capture their mindset convincingly and draw sympathy from the reader to someone with such discordant thoughts. The second thing that struck me was that it wasn’t what I would describe as a horror story, and that was what I had been anticipating with all three stories.
The storyline was both entertaining and moving, but I would have preferred the two story threads to have run concurrently. Having to reverse gears back to an earlier point in time was a little disorienting, so that the story was a bit of an effort to follow.
The second story, “‘Round These Bones”, presents the reader with James, a man down on his luck in more ways than one. When his marriage takes a turn for the worse, he races off recklessly in his car and an accident ensues. He then finds himself struggling for survival. This was a gripping thriller/horror with many twists and graphic moments, and I liked it better than the first tale. I particularly enjoyed the unusual ending.
In the third story, “The Woodshed,” the narrator describes events from his past involving his murderous and abusive father and the frightening woodshed associated with bad memories. This story is particularly gruesome and disturbing, with an old school, backwoods feel. More of a traditional horror tale, I think it was my favourite of the three.
Overall, the author had an inviting, casual writing style, shockingly so in some places, that made the stories an easy read. The styling was descriptive without being overly so and relaxed without being lazy. It captured my interest from the very beginning, with quaint phrases like: “Aisles of candy and chips and oils and other whatevers that all convenience stores seemed to carry lined out in front of them” and I didn’t have to work to get at the stories.
While I did enjoy the writing, I found the author used an excessive amount of sentence fragments and ellipses. It does mean the reader is spared from run-on sentences but it also gives the writing a “choppy” feel in places. Used on occasion, this can be a good way to accentuate portions of the story, but used to excess, it loses its impact and starts to hamper the story instead of giving it more flavour. I also found a couple of the sentences redundant or contradictory. These were minor irritations and they didn’t keep me from enjoying the stories.
Characterization seemed to be a strong point in the stories. The characters were flawed and believable, with plenty of personality. This was the most enjoyable aspect of the stories and the thing I value the most in a good read, making up for any negligible issues.
I’d rate this a four out of five stars, well worth a read if you can overlook the few minor detractions.
AJ Brown certainly has his own voice on display with his three stories in Along the Splintered Path. I entered into this one expecting something completely different; tales of rednecks and zombie chickens and banjo-plucking cannibals. I was very, very wrong.
Phillip's Story - A down-on-his luck bum, Phillip, finds a bag of money on the street. That's the very simple plot, but in a series of flashbacks, we learn how the story arrived in Phillip's hands and then to what end it meets.
'Round These Bones - A man receives some bad news and driving upset out in the backwoods, he crashes his car and falls down an embankment. Severely injured and in worsening weather conditions, has he got what it takes to stay alive?
The Woodshed - Kyle's past comes back to haunt him when his brother comes to stay and is plagued by nightmares. Together, they must face their demons at their childhood home...in the woodshed.
You know what I'm loving about the TALES OF DARKNESS AND DISMAY line up from Dark Continents? I'm reading either new authors to me or revisiting ones I've enjoyed before...and they're so different in their execution. While Suzanne Robb had the bizarre dark humour down, AJ Brown is a different creature.
This is said by so many people on so many reviews about so many authors...and I think I'm going to say it. Yes, I am. AJ Brown reminds me of Stephen King. 'Round These Bones especially reminded me of King's stories of people trapped and simply trying to escape their fate. My favourite was Phillip's Story. As a writer myself who tries to create completely evil bastards that the reader hates, AJ has the skills to do the opposite: characters that are uplifting and good despite the circumstances.
Along the Splintered Path has a more laid back pace but with plenty of meat on the bones, characters you actually care about and is steered with a confident hand. I can see big things for AJ Brown.
A.J. Brown's novella Along The Splintered Path is actually a collection of three long stories in one package. I'm a big fan of short horror fiction, so I was very pleased to find this collection, which is put out by Dark Continents Publishing as part of their Tales of Darkness and Dismay series, launched at the beginning of January 2012.
Brown is a writer who does a great job of exploring the reasons why his characters act the way they do. It's character-driven fiction, and he does it beautifully-- and he doesn't spare the gore, either. My favorite was the first piece in the collection, "Phillip's Story". This is an interesting piece, as it moves back and forth between several very different characters. The titular character, Phillip, is a homeless man who suddenly finds a bag full of money. How he gets the money is soon explained with the introduction of the other main characters, Thad and Hollis, brothers who rob a convenience store. The story explores the motivation of the characters as they get their hands on the money, and what the result is of their new-found wealth. The ending, I hope, will surprise you.
The other two stories are equally entertaining, fast reads that leave you reeling. "'Round These Bones" is the story of James, a guy whose day just goes from bad to worse. And just when you think James' day CAN'T get any worse, believe me, it does. "The Woodshed" is a very effective piece, written in first person, about the horrors faced by a boy who tries to rescue his brother from their abusive father.
Brown's Along The Splintered Path is a great collection of smoothly polished horror fiction. It's well worth the read.
Along the splintered path is a collection of three long stories in one book. The story lines are both moving and entertaining. My favorite was the wood shed the narrator describes events from his past involving an abusive father and the wood shed which is associated with bad memories. The story is gryesome and disturbing. It kind of reminded me of the the old western movies where the child is taken to the wood shed to be punished. I look forward to reading more books by A.J Brown
This is another great read from the mind of A. J. Brown. There are three short stories in this book which will have you going through every emotion. Philip's Story is about a down on his luck man who has lost his job, home, wife and young daughter. He comes into money because of an ill fated convenience store robbery but instead of blowing the money he shows compassion and pays it forward. 'Round These Bones is a story of luck, good, bad and none at all. James plans a romantic weekend with his wife that takes a cruel turn when she asks for a divorce. Storming out and heading down the mountain he ends up in an accident. Alone, injured and stranded he finds shelter in a cave and then the twists and turns of this story takes off. The Woodshed is about the abuse and terror two young boys go through at the hands of their sadistic evil father. This story takes you through the nightmares of the boys and a wild ride of terror. A. J Brown is one of those writers that can write in many genres and excels at them all. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys the suspense/horror genre. Well done Mr. Brown
AJ Brown's Along the Splintered Path is fast-paced, frenetic, graphic, and terrifying. Combine quick, clean prose with Stephen King like pacing, unreliable narrators, and a preying on the fears of the everyday man and you get AJ Browns "Along the Splintered Path". AJ calls himself "a unique mixture of strawberry Kool-aid drinking redneck and traditional values," and this collection definitely exemplifies this combination. My favorite story was "The Woodshed," about two brothers who are haunted by the corpse of their abusive father. However all three stories in this collection are good. Definitely recommended.
The first story was a great tale of something good and something better coming out of something bad. The second story was a scary tale that could absolutely happen to any of us. That third story though..... wasn't sure Jeff Brown could go there but he sure did and I loved it. A son's revenge and a demonic father come to torment. Another fantastic book from the man A.J.BROWN !
When you are faced with decisions, do you take the easy road or the hard one? These stories take you down the paths each character chose in their lives. AJ again pulls you in so you feel a part of each story. Taking true-to-life events and giving them a twist, this is one splintered path I'm glad I took.