“Ex Libris The Eyes of Madness, simple reviews from a simple reader…”
Zakk reviews Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones, 300 pages (not counting the back-end readers guide) published by William Morrow, 2016.
Paperback purchased from a local retailer (I know! I actually found a book I wanted at Barnes & Noble!)
Entertainment Value (Because the kids like numbers)
I was captivated from start to finish. 5/ 5
“Bears and wolves aren’t meant to get along.”
A spellbinding and darkly humorous coming-of-age story about an unusual boy, whose family lives on the fringe of society and struggles to survive in a hostile world that shuns and fears them.
He was born an outsider, like the rest of his family. Poor yet resilient, he lives in the shadows with his aunt Libby and uncle Darren, folk who stubbornly make their way in a society that does not understand or want them. They are mongrels, mixed blood, neither this nor that. The boy at the center of Mongrels must decide if he belongs on the road with his aunt and uncle, or if he fits with the people on the other side of the tracks.
For ten years, he and his family have lived a life of late-night exits and narrow escapes–always on the move across the South to stay one step ahead of the law. But the time is drawing near when Darren and Libby will finally know if their nephew is like them or not. And the close calls they’ve been running from for so long are catching up fast now. Everything is about to change.
A compelling and fascinating journey, Mongrels alternates between past and present to create an unforgettable portrait of a boy trying to understand his family and his place in a complex and unforgiving world. A smart and innovative story– funny, bloody, raw, and real–told in a rhythmic voice full of heart, Mongrels is a deeply moving, sometimes grisly, novel that illuminates the challenges and tender joys of a life beyond the ordinary in a bold and imaginative new way.
“‘Spook much, spooky?’ he said from right beside me, naked as the day he was last naked. I wasn’t sure if that’s how all werewolves were, or if it was just Darren”
Mongrels is my first Stephen Graham Jones novel experience, I tackled it directly after reading the short Mapping the Interior and while this review is LONG overdue, sitting unfinished for over a year, I still think back to the reading experience and wonder why I don’t fall into more SGJ books? He is a wonderful storyteller and I really need more of his fiction in my life.
To say that Mongrels a merely a horror novel would be running the risk of paying it a tremendous amount of disservice. While yes, there are horror elements abound, as a whole the book feels and reads like pure literature. Discovery, adventure, and growth are just as prominent ingredients as pain, violence, and revenge. It is the best sort of coming-of-age novel, character driven so strongly that you feel as though you’re making new friends, then watching said friends fall apart around you.
The cast is as flesh and blood as characters in a book can be. Their interactions are dynamic, sold through stellar dialog and communication, and their lives unfold as lives should. Through chaos and understanding.
Mongrels is to Werewolves as Near Dark was to Vampires (Ha! I just saw that comparison in the back matter!). Which is to say that Mongrels is a wonderful, satisfying read, and the moment in Mongrels when you see the idea of Mapping the Interior taking shape… awesome.
As much as I enjoyed Mongrels, I don’t believe that it’ll be for everyone. It is an introspective think piece more than a monster story. Know that I really want you to enjoy this novel.
Zakk is a big dumb animal!
**Note: I purchased a copy of Mongrels from my local Barnes & Noble and I am reviewing it voluntarily. These are my honest, unbiased feelings. I did not receive any sort of compensation.
Author Bio and miscellany
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