- Review by: Larry Stanley
It really isnt that often I get creeped out by a Horror book. Now, my reading drives for Horror are much different than they are for Science Fiction.
In Sci Fi, I dont like it when the protagonists all cuss like drunken sailors or are promiscuous. To me, Science Fiction is something that has to be nurtured and developed for a new audience and we dont want to scare them away.
But in Horror.. Oooohhh. That is different. Being scared comes easy to human beings. Maybe it is some sort of genetic memory of big lizards the size of a Buick that would eat you 30,000 years ago, or maybe it is the sexual thrill that comes with being scared.
I dont know. All I know is that everyone enjoys being afraid or creeped out around a campfire or a dark movie theater or even in front of a video screen.
That is the joy of Horror; it transcends almost all levels of social and economic strata and finds something to frighten people with.
And that is the pleasure of Christopher Alan Broadstones new book, Puzzleman.
Revolving around a broken hearted mother who has lost her only child, a legless man who is hiding from a terror he himself has invoked, a history professor and the woman he loves and a Cathedral in France built so far in the past no one has any idea when it happened or who it was done for.
The black Cathedral Fleur du Sang hides a monster that no one expected, a creature of nightmare and darkness that has been behind the curtain guiding and directing human kind for untold millennia, and now it drags new victims into its grasp.
This book was not shocking. Yes, there were shocks and plenty of them. But Broadstone tried to reach beyond just shocking the reader to pull them into the Cathedral itself and into the mind and evil of the Puzzleman.
Instead of trying to make us understand the evil, he turned to the characters and developed them into people we care about, and want to see succeed. Even if we know that not all of them can survive.
I mean, there is no such thing as everyone getting out safe in a horror book. Is there? But, the question here is not who dies, but who lives and how will they be able to keep on living?
Conundrum is a perfect villain. Making Freddy Krueger look like a clown, he slithers through the pages of the book and into the readers head to the point where you are almost able to see him as you see the words. When you read his statements, you can almost hear the slime in his very voice as he describes his world and the creatures that make it up.
Eerie, spooky and devilish are words that are bandied about quite often in todays Horror community, speaking about Vampires and Demons. But Broadstone has gone back to the very source of Evil, with all it Satanic draping and decadent majesty, bringing us a creature that those three words cant truly describe.
In todays world, Horror is not really evil. It is about evil or it is about people who do evil. Puzzleman is about Evil and what it wants from life. Puzzleman is truly Evil, and this novel shows the pure joy that the truly Evil can take in pain and misery.
This story is good.
Did I have any problems with the story itself? Well, yes. One of two; I was not too happy with the resolution between Rainbow and Jeanette came out, and I think Eric got off way to lightly.
Also, why is God always made out to be a bad guy in Horror novels? Sure, life stinks but most of our problems are brought on by ourselves or people around us. So, who sucks, God or man?
There is one part where the possibility exists that a benevolent supernatural force worked in the book, but it will probably be brushed off as nothing important.
The final act between Alan and Amanda sort of caught me off guard. It made perfect sense the way Broadstone did it, and it was anticipated, but I did not expect him to go on and do it the way he did. Bravo for not backing down there.
But all of these things were really not that important. To me, the Jeanette situation could be just left up to the readers mind, and Eric is just a personal thing.
But what tore me up is that Broadstone tried to write dialect into the book. Most of it took place in Texas, and he tried to write the characters speaking with a Texan twang and accent.
This cant be done, especially by a California boy. I dont know if Christopher has ever lived in Texas, but you cant write the way Texans speak if the only place you have ever heard it is on TV or movies. No matter how hard I tried, when I would read the words, in my head it kept turning into a New England accent.
I couldnt help it, it just came out that way.
Outside of that hearing problem of mine, the book was excellent. The cover art is disturbing, while still getting the image across of what the reader should expect. Done by Danilo Montejo, it brings out the feeling of creepiness that a good Horror story needs, without giving anything away.
Montejo has done work as a designer and illustrator for Disney, Universal, Sony, Amblin and is presently involved with Black Cab Productions as the Art Director for Broadstones new short film Human No More.
You can find out more about this fine artist by visiting his web site at www.danilostudio.com
Puzzleman is an excellent first novel by Broadstone who has worked on several short films over the last few years, including My Skin Scream For Me and Human No More.
He is the winner of Best Short Film The New York City Horror Film Festival 2003 www.nychorrorfest.com for Scream For Me as well as Best Horror Short (2nd Place) Raleigh Studios, Hollywood, CA www.shriekfest.com for My Skin both of which can be read about on our movie site and the trailers can be viewed at http://www.blackcabproductions.com/Movies.Home.SFM.html
All of his work can be purchased at http://www.blackcabproductions.com/STORE.html
Enjoy. With the lights off, and maybe a candle burning behind you. Makes it so much better.