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The Illustrated Hen

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The Illustrated Hen is a story about a young man named Ray, a common boy with an uncommonly vivid imagination. He inhabits two worlds – an inner dream world of heroic characters, detectives, soldiers, mystery beings, magical animals, the occasional vampire, and artwork that comes alive – and the outer world that he shares with friends and family. Sometimes the worlds overlap, and sometimes they collide. One day, in an attempt to make sense of it all, he finds himself caught in a vortex of his imagination. As Ray confronts his fears, desires, and passions, even the most mundane events become curious wonders in his journey to find a way to acceptance, peace and transformation. Finally he comes to understand the true magic of the real world.

242 pages, Paperback

First published July 15, 2019

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Scott Charles

11 books6 followers

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5 stars
10 (58%)
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4 (23%)
3 stars
1 (5%)
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Displaying 1 - 11 of 11 reviews
Profile Image for Stuart Aken.
Author 25 books277 followers
February 4, 2021
For me, this was a book more to be admired than enjoyed. There were references, many of them I assume essential to understanding and enjoying the story, to books I've never read, some I've never heard of.
I found the narrative style over clever and difficult to follow so I never really got into the story. And, because I couldn't identify with any characters, I felt detached rather than engaged. The book is surreal and, in some respects even absurdist.
So, not for me.
Others have read this and thoroughly enjoyed it. And I don't doubt its quality or its intelligence, it just didn't work for me.
Profile Image for John Maberry.
Author 4 books16 followers
February 11, 2021
Some have called it surreal. Others say absurd. It crosses genres. Read the description here on Goodreads for what's up with the book. As a fellow writer, I look at it for technique even as I strive to be entertained. I did like it very much. Not everyone will. This is one of those books that will engender the "Huh?" response. As in, where is the author going with this. If you're patient, you'll find out. That requires your attention to be kept because you find it enjoyable. If not, you'll just close the Kindle reader.

For me, it's an excellent book with imagery that only occasionally borders on purple prose. The voice does vary, adding some confusion, which is resolved in time. That’s a pun, as you will learn sooner or later.

The book opens and closes with a frame—not so obvious in the prologue, yet that’s what is.

Without spoiling, here’s some foreshadowing from it:
“He paused briefly at the dates. The headstones shimmered a bit as he pulled his hand away.
She would be here soon. He could see the energy rising up from the ground.
There was another Ray entering the tunnel. The possibilities were endless. Time was bending toward him but wouldn’t remain that way for long.
The headstones came back into focus, and she was standing there.
‘We’ve been waiting for you,’ she said.”


The opening chapter offers a PI character in negotiation with a shopkeeper. The narrative is vivid, putting the reader in front of the man. Again, in time, one will come to understand the point not of knowing the man but of getting why the description is supplied. The book is that well constructed.
“ ‘So what can I do for your, Burrberry comma Raymond,’ the man asked. He was a large, beefy fellow with a booming voice and thick framed glasses. He was holding up a business card and looking at it carefully. The man squinted through his glasses at the card, then Burrberry then back to the card.
The lenses were huge. The frames hung somewhat delicately on the bridge of his nose—a sculptured kind of nose, like you saw in those old Italian paintings.”


We could go on, but that risks telling too much. Here is the thing—it’s a story within a story. Rather, stories within a story. The writer’s voice varies because the stories do and it’s part of the evolution. Back and forth in time with characters and situations. It’s a rich book that I enjoyed. There are parts better than others. Parts that could have been better. But they can be overlooked as the sum of the parts makes for a wonderful whole.
Profile Image for Kerrie Nicole Tandle.
1 review2 followers
January 17, 2021
Marvelous! Scott Charles is a captivating wordsmith. I reread paragraphs to relish them longer, and the book was overall so riveting that I read it twice. Charles vividly, yet concisely, weaved rich characters and scenes real enough to tickle your senses (you can almost smell the rooms and taste the foods the characters are eating). The Illustrated Hen is a genre shapeshifter that takes readers on an odyssey of seemingly unrelated stories that delightfully pull together near the end!
Profile Image for Billy Buttons.
Author 18 books87 followers
April 11, 2020
A WISHING SHELF BOOK REVIEW
24th November 2019
TITLE: The Illustrated Hen
AUTHOR: Scott Charles
Star Rating: 4

‘Eloquently written, this is a fascinating and often rather surreal novel I very much enjoyed.’ The Wishing Shelf

REVIEW
This novel, at first, seems to be a number of totally separate chapters delving into a number of totally separate subjects. From vampirism to a detective who thinks the ‘comma’ in his name Burrberry, Raymond has panache, it’s all very , well, odd. But that’s okay. I rather enjoy ‘odd’.
The Illustrated Hen is, in many ways, a mystery book as Ray is trapped in his fantasy world, exploring his needs and his wants in a journey of fulfillment and personal understanding. It’s a very ‘dreamy’ sort of book and the plot is very hard to grasp, the story often going off on a strange tangent or suddenly focusing on what would otherwise be the mundane.
I suspect this book is not for everybody. Though what book is? If you enjoy a good thriller this is probably not for you. Clive Cussler fans, don’t even try this book. It will drive you mad. But, if you enjoy getting to know a character and being surprised – almost all of the time – by what the author deems important and worth focusing on, this is for you. In many ways, this book reminded me of a film, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, the only Jim Carrey film I ever enjoyed. This book, like the film, has a mind of its own. The trick is to just go with it and see what happens. And, most importantly, to enjoy the ride!

A ‘Wishing Shelf’ Book Review, www.thewsa.co.uk


This book was entered in The Wishing Shelf Book Awards. This is what our readers thought:
Title: The Illustrated Hen
Author: Scott Charles

Star Rating: 4.5 Stars
Number of Readers: 17
Stats
Editing: 8/10
Writing Style: 8/10
Content: 8/10
Cover: 7/10
Of the 17 readers:
12 would read another book by this author.
10 thought the cover was good or excellent.
14 felt it was easy to follow.
12 would recommend this story to another reader to try.
Of all the readers, 3 felt the author’s strongest skill was ‘plotting a story’.
Of all the readers, 14 felt the author’s strongest skill was ‘developing the characters’.
11 felt the pacing was good or excellent.
12 thought the author understood the readership and what they wanted.

Readers’ Comments
‘A story of self-discovery, lucidly written with a dry sense of humour. I enjoyed it.’ Female reader, aged 33
‘Character driven, not plot driven, this is a rather complex story of a man on his journey of self-discovery. A little confusing in part, but that all adds to the mystery. If you want a strong plot, this is not for you. But if you enjoy clever observations and an array of interesting characters, this very much is.’ Female reader, aged 53
‘I very much enjoyed this fascinating story. The author really helps the reader to get into Ray’s complex mind. Surreal in many ways but still a lot of fun with a cleverly plotted ending.’ Male reader, aged 56
‘A very talented author who has a strong, distinct writing style. The pacing is not overly fast, but it’s like a good wine. Why rush it?’ Female reader, aged 22

To Sum It Up:
‘An imaginative, often surreal, story written with flamboyance and style. A FINALIST and highly recommended.’ The Wishing Shelf Book Awards

July 28, 2019
"The Illustrated Hen" by Scott Charles is an intriguing read. Bradbury's "The Illustrated Man" is a collection of discrete sci-fi stories and at first, "The Illustrated Hen" appears to follow that format. But then the characters reappear and it becomes obvious that there is a thread throughout the book. These are not stories, but chapters leading to a surprising and satisfying conclusion. The characters to whom you are introduced are well developed, and the book has a dreamlike, surreal quality that kept me reading to the end.
1 review1 follower
August 4, 2019
I enjoyed this book so much that I read it twice. A book that tells a bittersweet story using a delightful combination of inner dialogue and descriptive eloquence, it is definitely a "good read." By letting us enter into the mind of a unique young boy, Charles has written a story that is a joy to read. I highly recommend it.
Profile Image for Anne Eston.
50 reviews1 follower
February 1, 2021
This book can’t really be explained or even reviewed in a typical sense. It’s a bit of the magical and the surreal. It was a completely unexpected framework for the main character to move through and transcend love, loss and grief. If any of this sounds interesting to you, dive in!—but stick with it. Gets a bit existential in places, but the payoff is grand imo.
95 reviews
December 31, 2019
Scattered and hard to understand. Assumes knowledge . Never fully becomes clear how it all fit together. If you don't read the epilogue, it even makes less sense.
8 reviews
February 5, 2020
Wow! this book was incredible. I loved all the characters and the plot. Mr. Charles did a wonderful job creating this story.
January 26, 2020
I loved this book. It has been a while since I read a book that I enjoyed so much. The book keeps you guessing and on more than one occasion, I had to backtrack to check out the characters and to ensure I was keeping them straight. I enjoyed the incorporation of art and other books into the story. The characters were intriguing and kept my attention. The book feels like many threads of stories which all come together in poignant solution. It definitely tugged on my heart strings and made other components of the book make sense. I wanted to hug Ray at the end and tell him it was all going to be okay. The best part was the second read once I understood the final story. Highly recommend!
Displaying 1 - 11 of 11 reviews

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