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on 5 June 2017
Seriously excellent. A great take on the "bodysnatchers" idea, with much more besides. I don't often read a book twice, especially within such a short time period, but I did it with this one, and enjoyed it at least as much the second time around. I was actually just going to flip through it to wrtie a review, but I got hooked and stuck with it. The very deep treatment of the aliens helped to make this book a real winner, and I can't praise it highly enough.
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I don't think it's possible to praise this too highly - I'm tempted just burble on about how good it is but I'll try and focus: a gushing review is no use to anyone.

Robert Jackson Bennett succeeds in producing what I never thought I'd see, a (loosely) Lovecraftian horror story that manages to evoke real terror and at the same time both to draw a believable landscape and setting and sympathetic, believable characters. The setting is one I don't know at all in real life - small town America - but I think he portrays it lovingly and credibly while introducing enough of a false ring to make the reader ask what's really going on. Something about the idyllic town of Wink is just... off. You don't visit certain areas. Some of the inhabitants have "arrangements" with, well... no-one is quite sure what with. No-one really wants to know. It isn't spoken of. Don't go far from home at night. If you hear something moving in your garden after dark, don't look out - just tidy up any damage in the morning. This is a town where nobody wants to make a scene, and everyone stays in line.

So it's a shock when, one evening, a bunch of small time hoodlums from the fringes of town bundle one of the town's elders into a car. Such a thing is inconceivable to him, unheard of in Wink - and it sets in train events that will change the town forever.

Soon after, Mona Bright, an ex policewoman who's fallen into a lifestyle of drifting, breezes into this complex, enigmatic place when she inherits a house from her mother. She'd never heard of Wink before, let alone known her mother had lived and worked there. Now Mona wants answers to her questions - and as you'd expect, Wink isn't a place used to giving answers, especially to outsiders. Is her search for these a threat to the delicate web of evasion and looking the other way that sustains Wink? Yes, but there may be worse threats to the apparent calm of the town.

I loved this book. There's real horror behind Wink - yet horror with a real element of sadness and loss to it. There's a decently credible scientific background to what happens, and some nice portrayals, in a couple of vignettes, of the long gone scientists at work. There is enough of a sense of mystery about what's going on, and what it might mean, to sustain the story over the whole of those 662 pages (20 of the quoted 688 is an extract of Robert Jackson Bennett's earlier novel The Troupe. Robert Jackson Bennett is good at breathing life into even his minor characters (for example, the heroin addict who's co-opted by the gangsters and who lives through some real horrors, yet recalls the sights and smells of her childhood amidst the nightmare her life has turned into). And Mona herself, who appears very tough (and certainly a mean shot with a rifle) also possesses depths of vulnerability arising from her mother's background in Wink which he portrays very deftly.

Last but not least, it's Lovecraftian themed fiction firmly grounded in the 21st century (even if Wink is a little old-fashioned) that never approaches parody (there is no baroque vocabulary) yet still evokes brooding, timeless horror.
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on 21 April 2014
When I was a teenager, scaring myself stiff with Lovecraft, I often wondered what it would be like to have an actual conversation with Cthulu or Nyarlathotep, etc. Imagine one of those things putting on a human face and communicating with humans. Well, after a fashion that's what happens here. The Great Old Ones settling down in suburbia.

Great idea and a tale well told. This is my first encounter with RJB. Obviously I'm going to have to read the rest of his stuff now.
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on 17 July 2014
Fantastic novel. Mona Bright is one of the best written lead characters I have come across for a long time. Perfect blend of steel and vulnerability also very funny. The plot is excellent and drip feeds info perfectly to keep you interested without spoiling the big reveals. The concepts are pretty hard sci-fi and I had to read parts back to get a grip on them but because of the excellent writing the themes and ideas are pretty clear. There is a slight issue with some of the descriptions of the 'real' look of certain characters because by definition he is trying to describe the indescribable. The ending is fantastic and really opens up the scale. All in all a great twist on the spooky haunted town genre.
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on 22 June 2016
In my opinion there are several things that make up a good book:
A good story, obviously, one that keeps nagging you to go back and read some more.
A nice presentation as in nice cover pic, and pages that are warm as in creamy white.
The words on the page nicely spaced, unlike those horrific books where the words are
small and the lines are crammed on the page.
And a writing style that sits comfortable on the pages, and straps you in for a nice
comfortable journey.

Well....you've found that book right here.

OK I've seen reviews pointing out little discrepancies, loose ends untied,but do not
let these minor irritants put you off.
This is a bold tale that sends little Mona Bright, ex cop, headlong into the town of WINK,
a town of ultra weirdness, a place resonating The Stepford Wives, Invasion Of The Body Snatchers,
and serious things that go a mighty bump in the night.

Yes, perhaps there are too many characters, and being such a massive book at 662 pages,
many odd characters flit in and out. But don't let that put you off.
The atmosphere of impending (ultra serious) doom is always on the tip of the next page.

This is one book I reckon Stephen King would have been proud of.
The author certainly should be.
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on 17 May 2015
A great read. I would say this has element's of horror, mystery and sci-fi. It is splendidly written, and the imagery invoked is very realistic (even with the sci-fi elements) though very creepy in places too.

The main character, Mona, inherits a house in a town called Wink which lies in the middle of nowhere, and doesn't appear on any maps. When she reaches the town things seem odd, the people seem strange and there is a mountain with an abandoned laboratory located nearby... Mona wants to investigate the town to learn more about her long deceased mother, who she learns once lived here. The story follows her as she uncovers the mysterious of Wink. To say anymore would honestly spoil things.

Though it starts rather slowly it draws you in and then soon gains pace, sharing it's secrets quite generously. This seems to be a trend of RJB, which I like. Instead of piling secrets upon secrets then revealing everything in the last few chapters in a huge rush, you get answers throughout. It feels rewarding.

Highly recommended.
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on 21 August 2015
In short, I loved this. I'm a sucker for idyllic small towns in America with dark secrets, so the blurb had me right away. If you are a fan of the best works of Stephen King, HP Lovecraft or Twin Peaks this will be a book you'll love. If you're not a fan of those things this will be a book you'll love!

I won't recount the plot but will say that Bennett creates a world full of mystery, secrets and wonder. And most impressive of all is that when the answers to those mysteries start to be revealed the book loses no momentum. The author provides answers to all of the big questions raised and I was left totally satisfied by the conclusion, which is pretty rare, as I'm usually not short of quibbles!

Bennett's writes in a clear and straight-forward manner but many of his ideas sparkle with an intelligence. Whilst Lovecraft is clearly an influence on this book, there is also something really fresh about American Elsewhere.

One of my favourite novels of recent years.
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on 13 May 2013
Once started, I couldn't put this book down! It creeps into your mind and sucks you into its weird nightmare until you can't back out! The author creates a world that is totally realistic, and throws the reader into it screaming. It effectively mixes ordinary crime with Sci Fi and horror, and throws it all into a detailed and real small town setting where everyone lives inside the madness. He gives you a cast of characters that are crazy, thuggish, prim, confused, and anything else you can think of. The sense of growing horror is inexorable. I am now going to read his other books in a hurry! It is up there with American Gods and I haven't been engaged into such a detailed and horrific alter-world since reading Finch. Don't plan to do much once you start reading it! I hope this book gets promoted properly and takes its rightful place in the bookshops - right by the door!
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on 14 March 2014
The town of Wink is not what it seems. Behind the picket fences of small-town America lie secrets that would put Twin Peaks to shame. What lurks beneath is mostly hidden, but things are changing in Wink, and a single unexpected death heralds a family reunion of unimaginable scale.

It's cheesy, I know, but I was hooked from the first page. Tough, no-nonsense Mona is one of the best female protagonists I've encountered in years, and her responses to the threats and puzzles she faces are coloured with bravery and grace. The strangeness of Wink- and beyond- are portrayed with dazzling detail and almost tangible vintage patina. The plot had me gripped, even the parts where the science was mind-bendingly complex, and I was very sad too reach the end. I'll be reading more of this writer's work, for sure.
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on 2 May 2014
I had no idea what this book was about but i am so pleased i bought it .The story is written so well ,it draws you in and you just want to read until the end. I have not read anything else by this author but if this is an example of his writing then i shall be looking for more of his books. Wink is a town unlike any other, a bit like a stepford wives domain just so perfect with people who dont do anything but what they should .They are obviously being controlled by someone or something. It has been such a perfectly neat tidy and well ordered place, then Mona inherits a house there and uncovers things about her mother and herself she never knew. If you like sci-fi /horror in a modern setting then this is very much the type of book that im sure will give you a great read.
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