Friday, April 20, 2012

REVIEW: Edge of Dark Water by Joe R. Lansdale


Mark Twain meets classic Stephen King--a bold new direction for widely acclaimed Edgar Award winner Joe R. Lansdale.

May Lynn was once a pretty girl who dreamed of becoming a Hollywood star. Now she's dead, her body dredged up from the Sabine River.

Sue Ellen, May Lynn's strong-willed teenage friend, sets out to dig up May Lynn's body, burn it to ash, and take those ashes to Hollywood to spread around. If May Lynn can't become a star, then at least her ashes will end up in the land of her dreams.

Along with her friends Terry and Jinx and her alcoholic mother, Sue Ellen steals a raft and heads downriver to carry May Lynn's remains to Hollywood.

Only problem is, Sue Ellen has some stolen money that her enemies will do anything to get back. And what looks like a prime opportunity to escape from a worthless life will instead lead to disastrous consequences. In the end, Sue Ellen will learn a harsh lesson on just how hard growing up can really be.

Hardcover, 292 pages
Published March 25th 2012 by Little, Brown and Company
ISBN 0316188433 (ISBN13: 9780316188432)

About the Author
from his website

Champion Mojo Storyteller Joe R. Lansdale is the author of over thirty novels and numerous short stories. His work has appeared in national anthologies, magazines, and collections, as well as numerous foreign publications. He has written for comics, television, film, newspapers, and Internet sites. His work has been collected in eighteen short-story collections, and he has edited or co-edited over a dozen anthologies. He has received the Edgar Award, eight Bram Stoker Awards, the Horror Writers Association Lifetime Achievement Award, the British Fantasy Award, the Grinzani Cavour Prize for Literature, the Herodotus Historical Fiction Award, the Inkpot Award for Contributions to Science Fiction and Fantasy, and many others. His novella Bubba Hotep was adapted to film by Don Coscarelli, starring Bruce Campbell and Ossie Davis. His story "Incident On and Off a Mountain Road" was adapted to film for Showtime's "Masters of Horror." He is currently co-producing several films, among them The Bottoms, based on his Edgar Award-winning novel, with Bill Paxton and Brad Wyman, and The Drive-In, with Greg Nicotero. He is Writer In Residence at Stephen F. Austin State University, and is the founder of the martial arts system Shen Chuan: Martial Science and its affiliate, Shen Chuan Family System. He is a member of both the United States and International Martial Arts Halls of Fame. He lives in Nacogdoches, Texas with his wife, dog, and two cats.  

Follow Joe on Twitter
Like Joe on Facebook
Check out this interview with Joe by another of my favorite authors Robert McCammon
And this interview from Mulholland Books

My Thoughts
That summer, Daddy went from telephoning and dynamiting fish to poisoning them with green walnuts.

The story takes place in a small town near Gladewater, Texas.

Gladewater, TX sign IMG 4913

This story is narrated by Sue Ellen, a young girl living in poverty in a small southern town during the Depression. A local girl is found dead, and Sue Ellen and her friends are joined by Sue Ellen's mother as they head out to take the ashes of the young wannabe starlet to her ultimate goal of Hollywood.

Of all of the characters, I think my favorite was probably Jinx. I loved her honesty and found it refreshing. Any scene with Jinx I could see clearly in my head, as Jinx was so colorful and full of life-- a mouthy little firecracker!

At times this book made me feel somewhat depressed, but a lot of the time it made me smile with the quaint colloquialisms and honest remarks. And once it actually made me shiver, as a few parts of the story were particularly creepy.

A mysterious and dangerous character by the name of Skunk is introduced partway through the story, and this character was presented in such a creepy way that I actually felt a shiver go through me at one point, which is not easy to do. I do not creep-out easily!

Part psychological thriller, part pure entertainment, and part cautionary tale, this story held my attention throughout. While not a roaring ride, it kept a nice steady pace, and it kept me guessing.

I loved the author's writing style. Shocking, honest, horrifying, and brutal. I can't wait to read more.
Mama smiled at me as I sat down in a stuffed chair by the bed. The chair smelled damp and old, like a wet grandma. (p. 56)

“I know. I wear my mistakes like a coat, only it’s heavier,” Mama said. (p. 110)

She touched my hand, and then was quiet. I snuggled in close. I felt like a sad old dog that had finally been petted. (p. 112)

“She’s still a human being,” Mama said. “God makes all human beings, no matter who they are.”

“Well, he needs him a better mold,’ Jinx said, ‘cause some of these he’s making ain’t worth the waste of material.” (p. 241)
I was not a real fan of the book cover. Branches in the foreground, hazy background with a glimpse of the sun. The font looks as if it is smeared by water. I think it is somewhat clever, but it just doesn’t appeal to me. However my male friend absolutely loved the cover! So maybe it’s a guy/girl thing...

My final word: Author Joe Lansdale has found a fast fan in me. Honest and genuine writing, quirky southern prose, refreshing characters, and shocking subject matter coalesce into one of the best books I've read thus far this year, and has left me hungering for more!

Cover: 6.5/10
Writing Style: 9/10
Characters: 8.5/10
Storyline/Plot: 9/10
Interest/Uniqueness: 9/10

My Rating: 9 out of 10


I received a copy of this e-book to review from Little, Brown and Company, in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not financially compensated in any way, and the opinions expressed are my own and based on my observations while reading this novel.

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