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Mar132016

Book Review: Badfish

Badfish. Sue Rovens. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, October 28, 2015, Trade Paperback and Kindle, 225 pages.

Reviewed by Ed Sarna.

Badfish, the debut novel by Sue Rovens, is a darkly written, extraordinary book, with elements of horror and suspense covered in a fine skin of black comedy. To say this story is twisted is an understatement.

A plague of bad luck has befallen the town of Badfish, and the Finchon Motel is patient zero. The Finchon, owned and operated by Karl Demetris, is overflowing with transients, drug users, and all-around misfits. While the misleading advertising may draw in the occasional tourist, the fortunate ones see the writing on the wall. Karl, ever the entrepreneur, has developed a lucrative side business peddling a drug that gives its users a toxic high. The cascading events set off by this new drug quickly appear unstoppable.

The well-drawn characters jump off the page and quickly draw you in to their off-kilter world. Bad people sometimes show a softer, caring side, while good ones occasionally make bad choices, keeping the characters from lapsing into stereotypes. I was never quite sure what was going to happen next or how or if these people were going to get themselves out of the trouble in which they found themselves stuck.

This book, at just over 200 pages, was an extremely fast read. This was aided in part by the strong pacing and short chapters that kept the action racing forward. Every time I thought I’d put the book down at the end of a chapter, it ended leaving me wanting to discover what was going to happen next. Knowing the next chapter was probably another quick read, I’d allow myself one more. Thus, the pattern was established and repeated.

The ending was tied up a little too neatly for my taste, but that is my only complaint, and it is minor. I believe Ms. Rovens is an author to watch for in the future. She has a way of conveying a story that is unlike anything I’ve previously read. I cringed, I laughed, I cringed again, and then I moved on to the next sentence. While comparisons to Dean Koontz and Stephen King come immediately to mind, she is an original, and far enough out there to occupy her own space on the “wall of weird.” I highly recommend Badfish to anyone looking for something a little out of the ordinary, or just something really good.

 

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