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Mr Shivers Hardcover – 21 Jan 2010

4.0 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Orbit; First edition edition (21 Jan. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841498572
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841498577
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 0.7 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 453,294 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


'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

Book Description

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.

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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This was o.k, far from great.

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.

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By Keris Nine TOP 500 REVIEWER on 29 Oct. 2009
Format: Paperback
During the Great Depression, Marcus Connolly has left his wife in Tennessee behind and, like many others, has taken to the road, hopping freight trains, heading west. Unlike most of the other hobos he meets along the way however, Connolly isn't looking for work or for a place with better prospects to settle down - he's looking for a man, a gray man with a horribly scarred face who has stolen something important from him. He's not the only person looking for the scarred man however, there are others who have their own terrible stories to tell of their encounters with the man who legend has come to know as the shiver-man, and each are just as determined to stop his progress across the country leaving terror in his wake, and kill him, if indeed he is even human at all...

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.
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Format: Paperback
From the reviews thus far, Mr Shivers seems to represent a near-as-damn-it perfect horror novel, but I would like to ship in a dissenting voice.

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.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Having read the quite brilliant City of Stairs I have been working through Roberts back catalogue.

I enjoyed this one and it's well written but it feels hugely...predictable.

Still, one for Bennett completists.
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By Rowena Hoseason HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 29 July 2015
Format: Paperback
This debut novel ambitiously aims to blend American gothic, historical grit and the sinister, surreal otherworldliness of a menacing modern-day myth. The sparse text veers towards the literary end of the spectrum, where the author establishes the narrative dynamic and the emotional context for the increasingly unsettling scenes, but lets the reader’s imagination fill in the fine detail.

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.
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