A man must face the actions of his past in the latest novel from Tavares (Existence: The Tale of a Fanged Killer, 2010, etc.).
James Threadwelle’s wife turns out not to be who he thought she was, and she suddenly leaves him for jilting her sister at the altar years earlier. Stunned, he packs up his belongings and his cat and is about to leave their home when he’s stopped by their chatty neighbor. The neighbor, it seems, knows a great deal about James—more than he knows himself. James, he says, once had another life, before a disfiguring accident, in which he went by another name. The neighbor reveals his identity as the Devil; he usually appears to bring people to Hell, but he says he’s come this time to show James his past mistakes. As James’ life comes back to him in bits and pieces, he learns a horrible, haunting secret from his previous life. Getting past this revelation, however, may be the key to his future. Although the story’s premise is intriguing, it often reads like a first draft, with its complicated storyline repeatedly broken up by long descriptive passages and detailed back story that doesn’t serve the plot. Although the author has a knack for these vivid descriptions, their quantity slows the action and makes the complicated story more difficult to follow. For example, early chapters include multiple digressions about James’ physical appearance and the care and feeding of his cat; after the Devil unexpectedly appears, these wordy sections may make readers impatient. Also, the book’s frequent spelling and grammatical errors may oblige readers to sometimes reread passages for clarity. That said, the novel offers some fine plot twists that will genuinely surprise readers who stick with it.
A supernatural tale with a solid story concept that gets bogged down by verbosity.