Bloodstone Hardcover – Jan 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Stephen King's influence is apparent in Kenyon's debut spooker about White Falls, Maine, a sleepy backwater mired in ordinary smalltown routines until the day that ex-con Billy Smith arrives, drawn by dreams of death and dark purpose. Accompanying Billy is Gloria Johnson, a hooker he felt compelled to kidnap; she happens to be plagued by similar dreams. Meanwhile, Jeb Taylor, a local boy, has fallen under the spell of an amulet with a sinister history reaching back almost three centuries to the town's founding. As the characters struggle to understand the amulet's malignant influence, they come to terms with their ordained roles in the impending showdown between Good and Evil. Kenyon gives his tale an impressive panoramic sweep that shows the horrors manifesting subtly and insidiously through the experiences of a large cast of characters. Though the climax is a chaotic jumble that doesn't answer all the questions raised along the way, it has an energy and enthusiasm that make up for the book's otherwise formulaic plotting. (Jan.)
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About the Author
Nate Kenyon grew up in a small town in Maine with dark nights and long winters to feed his interest in writing. He earned a BA in English from Trinity College in Hartford, CT in 1993, winning awards in playwriting and fiction. His dark fiction stories have appeared in various magazines and in the horror anthology Terminal Frights. Kenyon has worked in the Massachusetts public library system, and as the Director of Marketing & Communications for a New England law school. He is a member of the Horror Writers Association and International Thriller Writers. Kenyon lives in a recently-restored 1840s Greek Revival home in the Boston area with his wife and their three children. --This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.
Top Customer Reviews
Good job, Nate. Keep up the bloodletting!
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Short Summary: We open with Bill Smith having kidnapped "Angel" a junkie and prostitute, he is being plagued by dreams of the undead coming after him and seems to be drawn to a place he has never been. Angel is also having the dreams and has been hiding behind her addiction to keep them at bay. The two finally end up in a small town in Maine (why is it always Maine?) where they feel that something dark and sinister is about to occur and somehow they have a part to play. Meanwhile, Jeb Taylor's homicidal father has passed away in prison and Jeb collects his father's belongings, among which include some very strange and ancient artifacts. Jeb's behavior soon begins changing and horrific dreams begin to plague his mind as well.
I found this to be one of the most well thought out "first novels" I've read in a long time. I truly enjoyed the read. It is fairly fast paced and as I mentioned earlier, the level of "creepy" begins right off the bat and remains with you from beginning to end. True there are a lot of unexplained things in this book, but sometimes that just adds to the terror. Many people have compared him to an "Early Stephen King" and I can see the similarities, though I actually preferred this novel to the "More recent Stephen King novels." On the whole this was a very fun read and I look forward to more books by Mr. Kenyon.
The novel starts off with a bang, as recently paroled convict Billy Smith has kidnapped junkie prostitute Angel while in the throes of increasingly strong hallucinations that are compelling his behavior. Along the way he finds that Angel is also having hallucinationary visions and that she has been trying to control her own hallucinations with street drugs, and together they decide to search for the origin of these visions.
They find that the origin in the little town of White Falls that is readying for it annual town festival. In White Falls we meet the last two main characters of "Bloodstone". The first is Jeb Taylor, an angry, paranoid loser whose father was a violent, homicidal drunk; the other being the dedicated town doctor (and coroner?) Harry Stowe.
By the time that they have arrived in White Falls, Billy and Angel are falling in love, and Jeb is falling down the deep well of paranoid persecution and alcoholism, and Stowe is dragged into all of this by the death of a local priest.
The problems with "Bloodstone" outweigh the positives. While I don't mind a slow build-up, the main problem is the slo-o-o-ow pacing. Other than Jeb's dead father coming back to corrupt his loser son, and Billy finding a job doing scut work over at Stowe's offices, not a lot of interest happens and the storyline meanders endlessly until well past the two-hundred page mark. Kenyon certainly doesn't do much to develop the characters, as Jeb remains forever the whiney little putz, only getting progressively worse under the tutorage of his ghostly father; Billy remains the passive/resistant that keeps him from doing anything really interesting until the end of the novel; Angel is basically regulated to the background, and Stowe is stolid but two-dimensional. The rest of the novel's characters are straight from central casting and we get not one, but two cranky dementia addled characters.
Another problem is the romance between Billy and Angel. I just found it hard to believe that after being forcibly kidnapped and beaten, Angel would genuinely fall in love with Billy, and while Billy's visions are getting worse, Angel's visions disappear, as does her long-time drug habits because she starts thinking positively. Huh!?! If beating a habit was only that simple.
The book only really gets interesting in the last fifty pages, and even that could have been better. We get the walking dead, but they kinda do nothing but wander around the town and we find out that, no surprise, everything has to do with a character from the town's founding reaching out from the past to create the evil hauntings. In the end, "Bloodstone" has a pretty good cover, but a pedestrian plot with a mediocre pacing. This might have made a good novella, but there is just not enough meat here for full-length novel, although it would probably wouldn't be a bad low-budget movie.
It is easy to see why several authors have referenced Stephen King when reviewing this book. Like King, Kenyon takes the time to breathe life into his characters. His world is very much our own, where you find not black and white, but varying shades of grey. Bloodstone takes such archetypes as the alcoholic ex-con and the prostitute junkie, moves gets past the stereotypes, and allows these characters the chance to be heroes.
The line between good and evil is razor thin and the choices made along the way determine on which side the protagonists ultimately fall. The beauty is that when these hard choices are made, Kenyon has so engrossed the reader into the story and fleshed out the characters so completely, that you feel an emotional connection. And that is what I look for in a book.
I recommend you find a copy of Bloodstone and thank me later.
The book contained characters that I really didn't care about, and frankly, found unlikeable. The story, at least in my humble opinion, certainly didn't match the book's exciting and provocative cover. Kenyon's novel has been compared to the work of Stephen King; in my estimation the only thing "Bloodstone" has in common with anything that King's written was that it used Maine as the setting for the story.