Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Mama Fish

Title/Author: Mama Fish by Rio Youers (Novella 86 pages).

Genre: Horror/Sci-Fi.

Publisher: Shroud Publishing

Source: Purchased at Horrorfind Weekend.

Favorite character: Patrick Beauchamp.

Favorite quote: “The trees gossiped and trembled.” “…her smile will make flowers open.” “I could hear the apple trees rustling their naked branches in agitation.”

All in all: Not what I expected, yet more than I expected.

Synopsis:  Harlequin High, 1986. Kelvin Fish was the oddball, the weird kid that no one would talk to. Except for Patrick, who was determined to learn more about this strange child, and to befriend him. But Patrick would get more than he bargained for.  -From author's website rioyours.com.

What I didn’t like: Nothing much quite honestly. If I have to pick something, there was a line or two that had to do with inappropriate sex that the main character conjured in his imagination.  But really it was just a passing daydream that I feel was simply a reflection of the mystery of Kelvin and his home life.  I acknowledge that sometimes bizarre thoughts just infiltrate your mind, so if you do try this book and are squeamish don’t let it put you off.

What I liked: “Isn’t it amazing how the smallest decisions can have such a massive impact on our lives?” Patrick says this in the story and to me, this is what Mama Fish is about. That and how friendship can be so strong it can span time.  The story is not what I thought it was going to be and therefore the twists and turns were more of a surprise. It was haunting, sad and nostalgic. While reading it, I felt dread, melancholy and pity.  However, it left me feeling very hopeful.

The story is relayed by Patrick and we see Kelvin through him. Although Kelvin appears to be a somewhat monstrous person, Patrick sympathizes with him and senses there is something more to his  frightening exterior.  He and Kelvin do not seem to have much in common but Patrick recognizes something of himself in this other outcast and wants to be his friend.

One day he decides to follow Kelvin home and the ensuing events change his life. Patrick says for many years he wishes he never followed him home that day. That was such a great line to build tension and made me feel Patrick’s regret.  Isn't there an event in everyone's life that they wish did not happen?  That they wish they had taken just one step sideways to avoid?

The story flipped from Patrick’s childhood to his adulthood with skill, increasing the suspense. What happened to him as a child? How have those events effected him? He is sympathetic both in his younger days and in the present. He is a simple guy, a normal guy. But he’s holding onto a memory that effected him profoundly.  The mystery of Kelvin is hinted at, then revealed.  At first it is horrifying and then it becomes wondrous.

The writing was powerful.  Unique similes and descriptions were used to illustrate thoughts and meanings. It’s exciting and inspiring to find prose that moves the story along like in Mama Fish. Youers uses lovely words to describe otherwise mundane events and objects. When relaying a horrifying incident he compared time with a jester. A bully had “rock like fists” and “…fear growled and snapped.”

If you really must put Mama Fish into a genre, you can say it's a little bit of Horror, with a lot of Sci-Fi, maybe a bit Steampunk and also a Coming of Age story.  It's just as hard to fit this story into one specific genre as it was for Patrick to fit in among his peers.  For such a short book, it took me a while to put my thoughts together to write this. Thought provoking and deeply layered, it is a poignant page turner.  I will definitely be reading more by Rio Youers.

5 out of 5 stars.


Smash Attack Ash said...

Ohhhhhh! This book sounds fantastic!! I was immediately drawn in by the title and cover, which are so odd together. Sounds interesting!

Unknown said...

wow that sounds like an awesome book! Great review hon!

Im loving the new design btw!! =D

Unknown said...

Mama Fish is an interesting little novella and one that is hard to categorize. Part coming-of-age, part befriended misfits, part urban horror, and part speculative, this novella is most certainly a page-turner, keeping me engrossed the whole way.

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