Review of: The Returned
by Jason Mott
Copyright 2013 by Jason Mott
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
$24.95 US, $27.95 CAN.
Nothing is more satisfying than reading a spellbinding book from a new author who knows how to apply all the necessary ingredients to keep his readers reading! I have had that satisfying experience all in a day! Author, Jason Mott, is a unique story craftsman, and reveals his exceptional talent in his new book, “The Returned.”
I started reading it Sunday morning at 9:30 a.m., and never put it down until I finished it the same day, at 8:30 p.m.. I didn’t know I could read so fast! But then I realized: everyone could read fast if the book is that good enough. Makes you wonder: how many books out there are really publish-worthy? Which is my argument for NOT self-publishing… But that’s another debate for another day…
When I finished the book and also realized I was not in the book, I cried. Yes. I admit it. That is how involved I became with the book and how deeply I got into the story. Imagine the characters in your head! I did. I saw every last one of them, and I even saw the author in it, because I DID meet the author, and his alter ego is in there! Believe me!
Here are some technical points about the creative mind of the author, Jason Mott, I wish to point out. Oh by the way: the author is actually a poet, and has published poetry. This may help you imagine the prose, which at times, are somewhat rhythmical.
There is a well thought out plot. It made me think he had mulled the plot around in his head for years, perhaps, with multiple subplots that could turn into other books in the future.
Secondly, the author skillfully injects a cathartic character (read Author’s Notes and Acknowledgments in the back–I always read those first) endearing the reader to that particular character, who serves to compel the reader to forge through the morass of events, to discover what will ultimately happen to that character, and why he is so important to the story. Is he a string in the unraveling yarn that will carry us to the conclusion? Or, is he just a good distraction?
Finally, one of its major characters is ejected from the story (I’ll never tell), but since the story itself is based on supernatural phenomena, it is possible to see most or all of these characters again in future books (I hope!) The narrative is close enough to reality, but surreal events in the story creates in a reader the illusion that it could very well happen by some odd strike of time. I would have to say it is either Magical Realism or some level of Science Fiction, but not quite.
Most old veteran story-makers know how to pull a yarn. This is true of Jason Mott as well, who works meticulously on this tale to appeal to the widest audience possible. Here are a couple examples.
In the plot, a focused reader can almost count the complications and will feel drawn to make conclusions that seem natural to make. Remember though, this is not a natural story. At the very beginning, Mott hijacks the reader’s expectations by throwing an immediate curve ball. This is the main string in the plot that pulls the reader headlong into the story, but does not lead you to the truth of what the reader expects to find out–which is the Phenomenon that runs through the whole story. If one is curious enough to keep pulling the yarn, one thinks oneself astute enough to know what’s next. But, again, the reader finds it is never what the reader expects. Remember: it is not a natural story, but a terrifying phenomenon–yes: terrifying, I would call it. I cannot fathom what would happen if this truly did happen! So, I use that word deliberately.
And such a terrifying phenomenon is the thematic yarn that pulls you through the story. The Denoument never really happens regarding the Phenomenon, but instead the author pulls us deeper into a psychological battle of the mind, which is ingeniously structured to make the reader ponder long after the book is over: what would I have done if this happened to me, to us, today? And: Who do I think would go nuts, keep on the right path, distrust and make mistakes, etc.
Harold and Lucille are such endearing characters that deal with the phenomenon as best they know how. Both deal differently with it, although they are entrapped with the same problem having to do with a son who died a long time ago. What is heart breaking is the fact that they would say they would never deal with it as they do, but they change when it happens to them, this phenomenon.
In short, the story gets under your skin, into your mind, and pains your heart with nostalgic concepts of people you’ve lost, exactly as an extraordinary story should do. I refuse to waste time telling you the plot completely. You need to read the book yourself, then find others that would discuss the ending with you. And the ending IS a debate, I can assure you. I am hoping for a sequel, and fast!