So once upon a time there was this guy. He meant well. Or at least...51% well over 49% ill. On average he meant well. And then he made a mistake. One teensy, tiny little mistake. But clearly not one that shifted the balance the other direction. Clearly he's still a good guy. Who at least still means well.
One teensy, tiny little mistake after another, and he's not sure where he is anymore. Did he mean well? Or ill? Or something else? Is ANY of this his fault? Surely not all of it is his fault...
You've read that story before; it's the classic tale of a life gone wrong. Almost always, for reasons that vary from book to book, it was already going wrong anyway, before the monsters and uncanny stepped in.
What sets The Boulevard Monster apart is the warmth that fills the pages. Unlike many of the anti-heroes that carry out their own self-destruction, aided by the supernatural, bad luck, and Very Bad Men, our hero Seth Fowler is actually, genuinely likable, not just a self-justifying jerk of an unreliable narrator. He spends his time caring for other people, trying to make their lives a little easier. He has fond and even delightful memories of the past; he is grounded in solid realities rather than ambition and drive. When the time comes for him to make an ethical choice (at the very beginning of the book), he makes it without hesitation: in fact it's his ethical choice that gets him in trouble. When he digs himself deeper and deeper into gray and then black areas of morality, you know that he's making a very clear-cut choice between bad and worse. The mistakes he makes are the ones that we all make every day, out of the desire to help our loved ones, or prevent them from coming to harm. And his family is actually worth it.
This is no whiny, self-centered character who you secretly wish would get a two-by-four-sized clue stick to the side of the head. This is a genuinely nice guy, which gives the classic tale a lot more impact than I expected. I couldn't hold myself back and go, "Well, if only he'd admitted that he was wrong here, here, and here, then he would never be in this place." There was never a moment where I could say that. The actions that the character take throughout the novel have nothing but admiration and sympathy from me. Even during Seth's worst moment, I went, "Ahhhhh...I'd have at least been tempted."
The ending, in my opinion, nailed it. I'd like to see more in this universe, too. Recommend.
CLICK HERE TO READ DEANNA'S INTERVIEW WITH JEREMY
I KNOW WHAT YOU HAVE HEARD ABOUT ME
You say that I am a madman. You say that I am dangerous. You say that I am the one who has been abducting women, slaughtering them, and burying their corpses all around this city for years. You are wrong, because only part of that statement is true…
I AM NOT A KILLER
I know that you probably won’t believe me. Not now. Not after all that has happened, but I need to tell my side of the story. You need to know how this all began. You need to hear about the birds, but most of all, you need to understand…
I AM NOT THE BOULEVARD MONSTER
DeAnna Knippling is a writer and editor of dark speculative fiction, mystery, and horror. She has ghostwritten over a million words since 2013, and has had multiple short stories published in Three-Lobed Burning Eye, Black Static, and more. She's currently working on a series of cheesy 80s horror novels involving fairies. The first novelette, By Dawn's Bloody Light, about three women who take revenge on a serial killer, will be released July 1. You can find out more at www.WonderlandPress.com. You can also find her on Facebook andTwitter.