Saturday, September 3, 2011

Indie Book Review: McCarty Griffin

In thinking about this review, I've got the music from The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly in my head.  Before anyone thinks I'm calling any of these books bad or ugly, let me say what I mean.

The Good:  The Tribe is a sweet story about a group of feral cats and the humans who move onto their farm. 

The Bad: Monster Story is a "Good Lord! By all that's good and holy, DON'T GO INTO THE WOODS!" sort of tale.

The Ugly: Half Inch is a story of a battered woman planning to and murdering her ex-husband.

So, it's on the level of choice of topics is where these terms fit.

The Tribe brings us into the minds of a collection of feral cats left to their own devices on a farm, and their adventures with the humans who decide to move there.  It's cute.  It's sweet.  It's begging to be made into a live action movie for the 5-10 year old crowd.

I think The Tribe is technically a book for adults, (none of the characters are children) but I'd highly suggest it for reading with your kids.  Especially if they're old enough to be begging for pets.  This would be a great start to conversations about what it means to take care of an animal, about how they aren't just furry toys, and how to respect the small, fuzzy lives around us. 

I'll have to admit that I didn't finish Monster Story, but not because it was low quality.  For personal reasons I've been in a place where horror just isn't settling well with me.   The set up was strong.  The creepy factor was ramping up.  Horribly dead people were being found, well, pieces of them, and I hit the point where Monster Story was just too much.

I'm not usually a wuss when it comes to horror, so I'll probably take a stab at it again later.  But for the third of it I read, I was impressed, so impressed I didn't want to know what happened next.

And then comes Half-Inch, which was one of the most wonderfully ugly stories I've read in a long time.

I've always felt the true horror of Silence of the Lambs comes from the fact that Hannibal Lecter seems so reasonable.  You read the books, hear him speak, and suddenly you're thinking murder as art doesn't sound like such a bad idea.

Pammy (Half-Inch's main character) might not have the same motivations as Lecter, but as you steep in the story the reasonableness of her actions grows and grows.  Toward the end you're sitting there, nodding along, more or less thinking, 'Yep, he had it coming.' and that's when you pull back and realize exactly how ugly this story is.

All in all, I'm quite impressed by the range McCarty Griffin was able to pull off.  Besides basic setting, these three stories have very little in common, yet they are all very believable.  She understands the mechanisms of thriller, horror, and non-genre fiction.  Stephen King is the only other author I can think of who's managed to pull off all three convincingly, and he's not bad company for an author to keep. 

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