Books / Horror / Reviews / Sci-Fi

BOOK REVIEW: John Mulhall Proves Horror Can be Multi-Dimensional with his Debut Novel, Geddy’s Moon

Book

I’m not going to lie, the cover even gave me nightmares.

 

Being a literate man–albeit just barely–I’ve learned there are many good books out there that do their genre proud.  On the flip side, there are only a few great stories that do several genres proud at once.  One of those rarities is author John Mulhall’s debut novel, Geddy’s Moon.

It should be noted that with the exception of my unhealthy obsession with the Walking Dead, I am not in any way, shape, or form, a fan of the horror genre.  Seeing as how Geddy’s Moon technically falls within the genre which requires I have extra underwear on hand, I was initially very hesitant to pick up a copy.  The incessant recommendations from friend and movie compadre Erika “Spunk Destructor” peaked my interest just enough as she has never steered me wrong with her past suggestions.

Prior to me jumping into the gory details, I must warn you I won’t be disclosing any gory details at all. This holding back of particulars has nothing to do with the fact the author of the horror tale, Mr. Mulhall, threatened to break both my knee caps and shove me off a pier into the Pacific Ocean if I divulged any plot specifics, but mainly because any revelations I make will only take away from your enjoyment of the story.  That said, the facts that I enjoy my knee caps and would rather not partake in drinking salt water by the gallon still played key roles in the final decision.

 

Mulhall Profile

The nicest author you’ll ever meet… until you decide to post spoilers of his work all over the net.

 

As many within my Outlaw community know (more specifically the ones who actually read my posts), I tend to tread lightly in the plot summary department as well, and this review will be no different.  As the story begins, we are introduced to Tyler, who we quickly find out is suffering from some major memory loss, which, it is safe to assume, has nothing to do with an over indulgence of medicinal plants or alcohol.  Still, the reason for this memory loss is a mystery not only to himself, but to the town of Geddy’s Moon, Kansas–a town he has seemingly wandered into without any rhyme or reason.

In spite of his memory loss, Tyler demonstrates to the extremely small population of the town that he is not a threat through his kind deeds and offerings to help work on the land of a local wheat farmer named Poppy (not to be confused with the Spinach eating sailor of similar nomenclature).  As Tyler grows friendlier with the town folk, most notably with an attractive young librarian and her son, he also starts suffering from some horrific nightmares.  This is the part of the story where the book demonstrates it is clearly fiction because really, is there truly such a thing as an attractive librarian?  I’m willing to wager even Bigfoot will be found first.

 

Librarian

Who said print is dead?

 

Just as it seems Tyler is starting to put one and one together to make three, the reader is transported to an entirely different location in an entirely different decade.  The major shift brings the focus of the story to three middle school aged-boys.  Most, if not all, of the novel’s second act is spent following the goings on of the boys as they spend the summer together in their small semi-rural suburban neighborhood.

Notwithstanding the fact we spend a large chunk of this story with pre-teens, this story is far from a children’s book.  On the contrary, things start to get quite terrifying about half way through the book as the children quickly discover that their new neighbor is much more than what he seems to be on the surface.  From this point, the story hits fifth gear and truly takes off like a bat out of hell.  It’s a great story-within-a-story, and eventually, we learn the connection the first act has with the second act.  If I sound like I’m being coy, it’s because I am.  Remember, the thrill of the plot is in the read, not to mention I love my body parts in working order.

 

Evil Things

Can you blame them? It’s a lot harder than it looks.

 

Per the title and my opening praises, Geddy’s Moon is more than just your everyday horror tale.  It combines some elements of science fiction along with some mystery for good measure.  I even felt there was a dash or two of fantasy in and around the end, but that may be more of individual perception and your mileage may vary.  On the topic of science fiction, Mulhall does a convincing job of bringing in some scientific explanation to certain aspects of his novel which imparts a level of believability that helps pull the reader into the world of Geddy’s Moon even further.

Of course, any novel is only as good as its characters, and Mulhall goes into more than enough detail of each character’s physical specs and psychological eccentricities to afford the reader’s imagination enough information to bring each personality to life.  Mulhall also does an amazing job describing the worlds of Geddy’s Moon and brings each new location to life in the theater of the reader’s mind.  I had no issue picturing all of the landscapes Mulhall went into great detail depicting for the audience—not only did he describe them to a tee, he also set the appropriate tone for each atmosphere as well.

 

Geddys Moon Backdrop

The promo material was so spooky, it made me give up gluten!

 

With all of the glowing things I just mentioned, you’re probably wondering, was there anything I disliked?  Unfortunately, all was not perfect and there were a few minor quibbles I had with the overall delivery of the entire product.  While slow starts are in the eye of the beholder, Geddy’s Moon definitely felt like a slow burn during the first half of the book with the exception of the mysterious opening prologue.  Part of this has a bit to do with the fact that many books start slowly, the nature of the medium, and some of it has to do with the fact I tend to read a page a day when first diving into a new novel. Building a world with new characters from scratch is going to take a longer runway before taking off.  Sequels or follow-up stories have an easier time gearing up, but those are the exceptions.  Still, it felt like a bit longer of a trek than usual before things started to cook and to be fair, this has everything to do with the fact there is a shifting of gears in the story about a quarter of the way through that requires the explanation of new characters during a different point in time.  Suffice it to say, the somewhat slow build up is worth it once you get into the back nine of Mulhall’s captivating saga.

 

MAIN Geddys Moon

I may be a slow reader, but I know good author when I read one!

 

The only other minute thing is the style in which Mulhall broke up his chapters.  I’ve always enjoyed the way in which many of my favorite authors finish a chapter with a sentence that acts like a cliffhanger, begging for the reader to start the next section.  Those ending crescendos just weren’t there for me, especially during the first half of the book.  This may have also had a bit to do with the slow pace I took in the beginning chapters.  Regardless, I view this as a bit more of a personal preference, and my intrigue in the overall story ultimately kept me turning pages.

All in all, Geddy’s Moon demonstrated itself to be an extremely solid first foray into the world of novel writing for John Mulhall.  The story crossed the lines of traditional horror stories by including some other sci-fi elements one usually doesn’t see in a piece of work like this.  Per the aforementioned revelation of not enjoying anything to do with horror in general, it is a great testament to Muhall’s flair and ability to cross genres which made this unique story one of the best I’ve read in quite a while.  The best part?  Mulhall has definitely left the door open for a sequel.  If he decides to follow through, one can only hope he leaves no genre left unvisited.  Either way, the only thing more horrifying than the original, would be to not deliver a follow-up at all.

(Geddy’s Moon is available for purchase in digital and physical formats at Amazon.com)

 

5 Spurs

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