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American Elsewhere

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  4,168 Ratings  ·  665 Reviews
Some places are too good to be true.

Under a pink moon, there is a perfect little town not found on any map. In that town, there are quiet streets lined with pretty houses, houses that conceal the strangest things. After a couple years of hard traveling, ex-cop Mona Bright inherits her long-dead mother's home in Wink, New Mexico. And the closer Mona gets to her mother's pa
Paperback, 662 pages
Published February 12th 2013 by Orbit (first published 2013)
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Kyla Keep going. There are similarities, especially near the beginning, but the story does diverge, quite a bit, after about the halfway point.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
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Feb 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of mysterious, time-forgotten towns and searches for identity

from my blog (with photos from one of my New Mexico trips):

Lovely language and enjoyable storytelling, but suffers from a mild case of W.o.K.S. (Way of Kings Syndrome). I happen to have a fondness for New Mexico and enjoyed the general premise, so I found the book quite enjoyable, no matter the winding process of arriving there.

It begins with Mona, an ex-cop, in probate court as the officer goes through disposition of her father’s possessions. Surprisingl
First of all, I did enjoy this book... in general. There's a lot to love and I've always been a fan of any book that can cross genres, mixing SF/Fantasy/Horror into a wonderful smoothie. This is my third Bennett book, so I knew what I was getting into.

Unfortunately, I liked this less than the other two: City of Stairs and City of Blades.

It's kinda surprising, actually. I grew up in New Mexico, so getting the flavors and the horrors of the location should have been so nice, and I did enjoy the n
Michael Smith
Feb 07, 2014 rated it it was ok
Two stars feels sort of harsh, but the definition given by this site is 'it was ok', and that pretty much sums up my feelings about this book.

This novel has both horror and science fiction aspects and both of them were a little lacking. As a horror novel, it lacked much true 'creepiness'. Most of the novel is spent describing over and over how the town of Wink is different and that there are all of these unspoken rules, and that the residents know to just go about their business and keep their h
Nov 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc-review, 2014
I gotta get this out of my system right off the bat. I don't like the cover to this book. It doesn't stand out, it's only mildly representative of the story, which is rich and vibrant (i.e., bland and boring), and it's just plain blah. Hate it.

Whew, that felt good. Now back to our regularly-scheduled review.

Other than the cover, this novel was brilliant, as I already expected after reading only one other book by Robert Jackson Bennett. That book, The Troupe, happened to be my favorite book of 2
Apr 20, 2018 added it
Some places are too good to be true.

Wink isn't one of them. In fact, it isn't very nice at all, in my opinion. It's a small, boring, old-fashioned town in New Mexico. And you can't leave. Think "Pleasantville," but with a deep underlying creepiness, deadly lightening strikes, and a curfew that starts at sundown.

The town was so unappealing, in fact, that I wondered if Bennett making a point about how we're not only willing to sell ourselves (and our children) for tangible benefits, we're willin
Nov 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
I'm not quite sure what I expected when I picked this up, but it wasn't that. In a good way.

The blurb for this was pretty straightforward. Strange smalltown with perfectly manicured lawns, suspicious residents with secrets. Similar to many other books that I have read.

However, this book quickly turned the typical strange but seemingly perfect small town on its ass, becoming a mindfuck of a book that kept me transfixed to the very end. And I loved every second of it.

Robert Jackson Bennett contin
Feb 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a lovely horror story about the American dream gone badly wrong, to put it mildly. The idyllic small town of Wink in New Mexico is full of well-tended lawns, content housewives and afternoon martinis on the porch. Time seems to stand still (except when Time completely derails)and nobody has set foot outside the town for years. Of course, unspeakable evil lurks in the night, and the inhabitants wisely turn a blind eye to the nasty goings-on in the woods and make "arrangements" in order to ...more
Sep 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-books, read-2014
4.5 Stars

I am a huge fan Robert Jackson Bennett and I cannot wait to read all of his works. American Elsewhere is a mysterious horror novel that has many great things to love.

First, there is the unusual town and location of this novel a called Wink. A small south western town that does not show up on any maps. We are treated to several chapters involved with our heroine just trying to find this place in New Mexico.

Second, the lead character Mona is tough, smart, and not your stereo typical youn
I had another night in which I couldn’t sleep, so I finished another book. This book is one I struggled with; it didn’t seem to go anywhere for long periods of reading, and the ending was lackluster.

The writing wasn’t bad and there was a pretty good level of mystery and creepiness. The problem was that I never really liked or cared for any of the characters (even the main character), and the mystery of the mesa took way too long to reveal itself. By the halfway point, I couldn’t wait for the boo
Charles Dee Mitchell
When her alcoholic father dies, ex-cop Mona Bright discovers that part of her inheritance is a house once owned by her mother in the town of Wink, New Mexico. Mona's mother committed suicide, and Mona has all the unresolved issues that history provides. She wants to see the house, if for no other reason than to sell it, but she cannot find Wink on the map or any evidence that the town exists. When she does discover it, it is "picture postcard pefect." In other words, it is too good to be true, c ...more
Feb 10, 2013 rated it it was ok
I loved the first 400 pages, but then the book took a turn that I didn't particulary enjoy and it never found its way back. My first impression was that this was a really smart novel examining the ideas revolving around leaky spots in the space/time continum. But then it became this rather ridculously silly human drama, with petty siblings who look like....giant squids or some such creature. And Mona, she's just a dull and rather insipid protagonist. Not much in here for me it turns out...
Jon Recluse
Mar 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Take an homage to small town America, circa 1950. Mix in a healthy dose of science fiction from that decade, filtered through a contemporary sensibility. Add a dash of mystery and present in a style best described as "literary".
What you wind up with in this case is something that is more than the sum of it's parts. American Elsewhere is an incredible book, and that's coming from someone who hates science fiction.

Apr 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Bija tāda lieta, ka es pēc “Kāpņu pilsētas” izlasīšanas nopirku gandrīz visas Beneta grāmatas. Biju apņēmības pilns tās visas izlasīt un tā tālāk. Taču kaut kā sanāca tā, ka nekad viņām nav laika, un lasīšanas process ievilkās uz nenoteiktu laiku. Nu gan varu teikt, ka nekas daudz man vairs nav atlicis.

Dažas vietas uz pasaules ir pārāk labas, lai būtu īstas. Mona pēc tēva nāves atklāj, ka ir mantojusi māju pilsētiņā, kura nav atrodama uz kartes. Pilsētiņa saucas Vink, tā ir perfekta. Viņa sevī i
Jul 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
‘ is always quiet near homes like this, and it is always ill-advised to venture out at night in Wink. Everyone knows that. Things could happen.’

After her estranged father suffers a stroke, Mona Bright uncovers documents revealing she inherited a house from her late mother in a town called Wink, New Mexico. Not having anywhere to call home she decides to set out to see this house in this strange town that she has never heard of. Wink becomes extremely hard to find, not being on any maps as
Jun 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: the-best, mind-fuck
Scifi Horror Mystery Fantasy all rolled up into one!! and then some!!!

Yes the book is freggin huge, But it is NEVER boring. ALOT of things don't make sense, but everything gets explained, and then some..

Alien tentacle sex between an alien and a *cough* 'rather' young girl.

Family dysfunction that makes my earthly family seem quite normal!!

Illicit drugs being made the old fashioned way, An alien squirting it out of its ass like its taking a big white powdery crap!!

And the ending, Just when
Nov 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, 2013
Wow. This is my WTF, utterly gonzo, batshit-weird horror novel of the year. Carnivale meets Twin Peaks via Transformers, with healthy dollops of Stephen King, Clive Barker and H.P. Lovecraft.

The ‘darkness / unknown things behind a small-town façade’ theme reached perfection with Clifford Simak and Ray Bradbury, and one can hardly imagine that these masters can be bettered.

Robert Jackson Bennett, however, not only pays homage to, but totally transcends, the theme.

Just when you think you know wher
Jan 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Well-written horror/SF where a disaffected heroine arrives in a deeply weird town bringing long-simmering events to a head.

Mona Bright is a homeless drifter living out of a truck when she receives notification that her father has died. When she goes through his will she finds out that she has inherited a house from him that was originally her mother's in the New Mexico town of Wink. Her mother committed suicide when Mona was a girl, so Mona not only sees this as a chance to get her life on track
Feb 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
An amazing novel from Bennett, this complex story of aliens, the search for perfect happiness and sibling rivalry is reminiscent of American Gods in its writing and scope. The characters come to life in such a way that you begin to feel connections with them even though they are quite different from you and I. The writing is top-notch, proving Bennett to be a master of his craft and a name that should be known to all who love to be scared and enthralled at the same time. The ending is more than ...more
J.K. Grice
Oct 06, 2017 rated it did not like it
I wanted so much to love AMERICAN ELSEWHERE, and about the first half or so was great. Then the story started going in so many different directions, and I didn't like where the author was leading me. Amid the chaos, I really lost interest in the characters and just got tired of the whole mess that this book became.
Amy Macris
Jan 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Mona Bright is no stranger to loss. She lost her mother at the tender age of five, and the trauma of that sudden, unexpected loss has come to define her life. Now she has lost her father, coming on the heels of the loss of her career in law enforcement, her husband, and her unborn daughter. When she finds she has inherited her mother's house in the small town of Wink, New Mexico, she sets out to claim what is left of her mother's legacy, to attempt to unearth anything she can find about this wom ...more
Ruby  Tombstone [With A Vengeance]
I haven't enjoyed a book this much in a very long time. This was like cuddling up twenty (odd) years ago with the latest Stephen King or Clive Barker - back when they wrote enormous doorstoppers which were nonetheless unputdownable from start to finish. I felt somewhat nostalgic all the way through.

There is a lot to be said for this book - great writing, original plot, plenty of creepy stuff, good humour - but I think it's the central premise that really stands out for me. At its core, this book
Oct 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Rates, for me, a 3.5 star, but I had to stretch it to a 4 because it kept me going with some considerable interest for nearly 700 pages, which is no mean feat nowadays. Tending to lose patience with duplicates of intense characterization and too many red herrings of sidetrack used to fill with gratuitous violence or effect, I usually abandon. And both of those situations occurred here in abundance.

It's a behemoth. For nearly 150 pages, somewhere near the middle, it became so redundant in fact an
Jeff Raymond
I think I thought I loved this book about fifty pages in.

I knew I loved this book about one hundred pages in.

I think I knew it was going down as one of my favorites about two hundred pages in, and then I still had four hundred to go.

I didn't want it to end, but it did, and it's easily one of the weirdest, strangest, most straightforward weird/horror books I've read. It's a little ahead of its time, too - if this had come out in 2015 it would be heralded as the book that could propel the New Weir
Paige Morgan
Feb 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
If Tana French, and Jonathan Carroll, and H.P. Lovecraft got together for a wild orgy and had a baby-- er, a book -- then that would be this story.

It is a very weird book; in fact, weird enough that it's hard for me to classify it, exactly. Bennett is working with territory that I don't usually deal with, and so it's hard for me to evaluate how well he succeeds -- but he mostly convinced me that he succeeded in what he set out to do, and that it was worth doing. I appreciated the fact that he se
Nov 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror, sci-fi, 2017
3.5 star for me - which doesn't really mean anything since this read was way off of my normal genre.

I did find it to be an interesting read. A few slight elements of horror mixed with science fiction....but....for my taste it was way too long and should have been wrapped up a bit quicker. I also felt at a total loss when the creatures from a different dimension were described in their "normal" body. I couldn't care at all for it - I felt like: Oh.......really....OK.....well....that's different.
Apr 08, 2013 rated it really liked it

23/10 - I've been reading this for seven days now, and it's continuing to baffle me - in a good way.

The town of Wink, New Mexico seems to be inhabited by some type of either aliens or supernatural beings who are hiding as humans. Mona Bright comes along looking for information about her mother, and for unexplained reasons (probably something to do with who, or what, her mother was, but it's not clear) she can see the different layers of reality that exist in Wink. Just as she arr
May 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, horror, sci-fi
I'm still not sure what drew me into this book -- that's always the fun, right, those random books you just feel like you MUST read, for no reason at all? That was American Elsewhere. I had never heard of it until a chance encounter on a bookshelf in a San Jose library.

Figuring it wouldn't hurt to open it up, the storyline pulled me in from the beginning. There was something surreal there, but not lacking in heart, or in plot. The story becomes a wonderfully rich portrayal of a unique community
Jan 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
I had no idea what this book was when I started reading it and I think that is the best way to experience it.

I wasn't 100% convinced by it to be honest, a lot of stuff seemed a bit too convenient and so on, but the characters and the concept were good enough for me not to mind.
Mar 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: weird
I read The Company Man several years ago and added Mr. Shivers and The Troupe to my tbr list but had not read either book yet. I saw this at the library and decided to give it a go. I can't say there is anything all that special about his style of prose, sentence structure or use of language, what I do know is that I love the stories he tells. This has a bit of a Lovecraft vibe and has several mysteries that kept my interest piqued throughout the book.

Upon the death of her father, Mona discovers
Apr 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015

- nagyon jól ír Bennett, tényleg
- ennél fogva a hangulat is tökre átjön: rózsaszín hold, kihalt, vörös sziklás új-mexikói vidék, Roy Orbison szól az autórádióban
- ennél fogva elég hatásosan borzongatóak a horror részek, a párbeszédek pedig totál élethűek, amihez a remek fordítás is hozzájárul
- marha érdekes, a valóságot megrepesztő tudományos kutatás is van benne
- valamint párhuzamos univerzumok, kizökkent idő
- őszinte és valós érzelmek
- klassz mondanivaló

- fura lények
- milli
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South Shore Readers: Discussion: American Elsewhere 22 14 Oct 28, 2017 07:00AM  
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Robert Jackson Bennett is a two-time award winner of the Shirley Jackson Award for Best Novel, an Edgar Award winner for Best Paperback Original, and is also the 2010 recipient of the Sydney J Bounds Award for Best Newcomer, and a Philip K Dick Award Citation of Excellence. City of Stairs was shortlisted for the Locus Award and the World Fantasy Award. City of Blades was a finalist for the 2015 Wo ...more

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“The older you get, the more voices you get in the back of your head.” 9 likes
“It is quite complicated, being civilised.” 7 likes
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