Mr Shivers Hardcover – 21 Jan 2010
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'After the brutal murder of his daughter, Marcus Connelly sets out across the blighted landscape of depression-era USA in search of her killer, a hobo known as Mr Shivers. Along the way he meets others who have suffered at the hands of Mr Shivers, migrant workers and destitute hobos, and comes to realise that the serial killer he is seeking might be more than a mere mortal. What begins as a revenge drama turns into something much more profound and disturbing, with the ravaged landscape of the depression mirroring the psyche of the novel's desperate cast of characters as they move towards a shocking climax. Mr Shivers is a startling debut, a deft amalgam of thriller, cerebral horror and American gothic, written with a stark and artful simplicity that complements the examination of struggling humanity pushed to its limits.' GUARDIAN 'A tale of quest anchored in dust-bowl desperation, MR SHIVERS creates a brutal new American mythology. Bennett weaves a modern combination of horror, historical fiction and high-fantasy' Scott Sigler, NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author of CONTAGIOUS
A compelling, original apocalyptic thriller, Robert Jackson Bennett's MR SHIVERS is an extraordinary and accomplished debut novel. --This text refers to the Perfect Paperback edition.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
The story revolves around a group of disparate and desperate individuals who band together to chase 'Mr Shivers' across 1930's dustbowl America to avenge those who he has murdered.
There are positive aspects to this book: firstly, the author has created what I feel would have been an accurate snapshot of the time and place; desperation, unemployment, drought, lawlessness and hard people. The book also reminded me of the Gunslinger and Of Mice and Men (as others have mentioned) and while it's inferior to both, at least the author attempted to convey a cautionary tale which is pretty well explained and illustrated; I found the ending satisfying.
However, even though the book is short - just over 300 pages- it's very boring and repetitive at times. There's a fair amount of characters but none (and I mean none) have any depth, show any growth or are at all likeable. Terrible things have apparently happened to them but it was difficult to feel any empathy for them. Each character was simply an interchangeable mouthpiece and used to respond to or ask questions of the dour and dull (and horrible) main Character Connelly.
That said, there was something about the writing that made me feel this author might improve over time so I'll give him another chance.
Set during the time of the Great Depression and taking place in the heat and dust of the American dustbowl, the period and the location of the Robert Jackson Bennett's novel is an unusual one for a dark horror story, yet there's something that feels wholly appropriate in the sense of death and decay, in a populace determined to confront very real basic issues of survival, in hobos who have lost everything gathered around a camp-fire telling their own stories of lives that have been torn from them. Not only does the author find it an appropriate means to express these issues in a simple, restrained, yet menacing style that resonates with the horror classics, but he also successfully manages to give the story of Mr Shivers a heightened mythological dimension that gets to the heart of the nature of revenge, of war, of death and its relationship with America - past, present and future.
Firstly claims towards its orginality are rather undermined if one recollects the HBO series Carnivale, which was basically a mythic road trip set in the Great Depression where two characters - strangely similar; one ostensibly good, one ostensibly evil - share a destiny upon which the fate of the world hinges. Some of the elements of the book - the strange town with a secret, the images of future apocalypses - mirror parts of Carnivale quite closely. Frankly I'm surprised that other reviewers have not drawn this comparison.
Secondly, while the prose is terse - and that's a good thing - this does lead to some confusion as a number of hobo characters are introduced who become hard to distinguish. Furthermore the kind of descriptive language one might expect in a fantasy/horror evocation of a nebulous, desolate world is largely absent. The temptation for debut authors is to overcook the florid sentences; I think Mr Bennett has gone the other way, which makes Mr Shivers a quick read, but its world strangely unconvincing.
Thirdly, as the plot/fable reaches its climax, I was in full head-scratching mode. So what's this about exactly? Is it about anything? The last thing I saw that had me react in that way was The Matrix trilogy as narrative sharpness descended into empty, pretentious mumbo jumbo. I don't think Mr Shivers is as bad as that, but tension is sacrificed for a resolution that has no resonance beyond the under-drawn world that Mr Bennett has created. Others will disagree and maybe I'm just not getting the thematic linkage to - what - regeneration, decay, American history of the Thirties, the Cold War whatever.Read more ›
I enjoyed this one and it's well written but it feels hugely...predictable.
Still, one for Bennett completists.
Mr Shivers begins as a latter-day western might, with wronged wanderers who meet on the road in pursuit of a scarred stranger. This could easily have been a straightforward revenge romp, but author Robert Jackson Bennett chose a much broader canvas. The story is set in the Great Depression, in the terrible dustbowl conditions which saw crops fail and families starve amid mass migration. A ragtag band of semi-starving misfits forms, driven to desperate deeds by the gruesome actions of the man they pursue. The story could’ve been a straightforward social history, an exploration of the survivors’ emotional loss, but then the plot takes an altogether more ominous turn as events become increasingly uncanny.
The author’s writing style means that some of the characters are less well defined bit-players, almost incidental cannon fodder. Even the three or four core characters are stripped back to their essential selves – there’s no fluff in this book, no unnecessary elaboration as the ‘good guys’ gradually unravel during their quest.
That said, there are several deftly drawn scenes of powerful poignancy when, for example, the protagonist Connelly has the opportunity to walk away from his awful purpose, to step back into human society. Later, when he can’t recall the colour of his dead daughter’s eyes, this seems all the more sad.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
really enjoyed this, similar to early Dean Koontz in my opinion - not a bad thing at all. Will be purchasing the rest of his work.Published 22 months ago by argo56
I read this having just finished 'The Troupe' , which I thought was wonderful. This came as a disappointment. Read morePublished on 12 July 2014 by VMJ
Fantastic debut novel, highly recommended for fans of fantasy fiction.
Since reading this last year I have been eagerly waiting on new releases from Bennett & The... Read more
This was one of those deliciously creepy books that you finish and then lie on the couch, staring at the ceiling and not wanting to read anything else for fear of forgetting it. Read morePublished on 29 April 2011 by Everglade
A very absorbing read i really enjoyed this book and found it really atmospheric, it transported me to the american mid west and as an avid reader of Dean Koontz and Stephen King,... Read morePublished on 3 Mar. 2011 by katysparkle
This is a fine piece of writing, it moves with pace and purpose but gives the reader a vivid image of the dust bowl hobo existence and the desperation of men and the loss of the... Read morePublished on 4 Jan. 2011 by S. Glover
Bought this for my daughter who is big fan of Stephen King. She kindly let me read it after her. An author to keep an eye out for.Published on 25 Nov. 2010 by Mongrel
This is a first novel full of raw emotion - hatred, revenge, dogged determination, and pain. It is also a story that conjures up shifting moods. Read morePublished on 24 Nov. 2010 by JuliaC