Monday, August 21, 2006

The Burning by Bentley Little

Read like a fiend this weekend. Two Linda Howard books, including Cover of Night, and a Bentley Little book called The Burning. The Howard books were both good. I’m in awe of her research on rock climbing, she’s very detailed. I also snickered at her corn chip campfire scene, remembering when my friends and I camped in Ginnie Springs and built the Bonfire from Hell, tossed in everything, INCLUDING lawn furniture, we started it with a bag of Fritos.

However, as much as I like the Howard books, the Bentley book blew me away.

Really Blew Me Away.

Never read him before. He’s a horror writer Stephen King reads. I know now why King does. I haven’t enjoyed a non-romance book like this in…years. The last non-romance book I read, Wicked, depressed me. Terrific writing, riveting plot but when Fiyero died, sob sob! I got depressed.

The Burning didn’t depress me. Probably because none of the main characters died. It hooked me in, kept me frothing at the mouth to keep reading more, more, more! The book consists of four individuals hooked together by a growing evil. Each chapter switches back and forth between the characters. Normally this makes me cross-eyed, but in this book, Bentley so completely nailed the characters and finished each chapter with a delicate hook, enough to make you curious about their next incident, but not so much you want to skip ahead. There was some gore, but I’ve read King, and the gore wasn’t bad. The plot fascinated me… it’s based on prejudice and revenge and the history of the Chinese people in the U.S. And it had a train in it, a ghost train, which totally hooked me in first. The cover features a burning locomotive. I adore ghost train stories. DH and I collect them when we travel out west.

I read it in the ride back home, snatched some time in the car on the way over to visit FIL, devoured chunks as I could. I gorged myself on The Burning. It reminded me of when I was in an advanced sixth grade reading class. We’d order books we wanted from the catalog and when they arrived, were allowed to indulge ourselves. I’d eagerly anticipate reading, like a famished soul waiting for a good meal.

Bentley reminded me of King in both his attention to scene detail and his gripping characterization. The characterization is what had me so riveted. Had Bentley merely glossed over characters as some mainstream authors do, and concentrated on the plot, I’d have set aside the book. Instead, I HAD to find out what was happening with Angela, why Dennis chose to flee The Keep, how Jolene dealt with Skylar’s terror, and why Frank was both drawn to the twins and repelled at the same time. I stayed up until nearly midnight finishing the book. It was so good it was like a movie. I haven’t read a book that gripping in a long time, at least not a non-romance.

Now I want to acquire his backlist, especially The House, but I’m a bit afraid. The main reason I’m afraid is because reading horror books for me is like walking a tightrope. I loved The Burning because it was low on my graphic gore scale, none of the main characters died, and the ending was satisfying, in that evil was vanquished and life went on. There are some King books I can’t read again because they’re too intense, involving the death of a child (Pet Sematary) or the resolution leaves me chilled (The Dead Zone). I might wait on the Bentley backlist.

Today is a visit to the orthopedic surgeon. Joy, joy, joy. I want to bring a book, but I’m reluctant to start anything new I’ll have no time to finish. Maybe I’ll just listen to Evanescence instead. Wake up inside, after my knee is fried…

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