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Briarpatch by Tim Pratt is a dark, very moody tale. When the story starts with a suicide the reader quickly learns what they are in for. Pratt, however, breaks away from the pack and proves that he can weave a unique and extremely engaging story. Like most Chizine books, this one is full of concepts and ideas that takes normal storytelling, throws it out the window, and replaces it with a type of world that even the most experienced reader has yet to explore.
Darrin was a troubled man long before the love of his life took a header off the Golden Gate Bridge. He had lost his job, only has one friend, and with his girlfriend dead, by the saddest of causes, he finds himself little more that a aimless wanderer in the bleak urban landscape. Yet somehow, perhaps due to his misery peeling away the facade of reality our group-think forces us to believe, he discovers the outskirts of a hidden world beneath our own. In this world, that he eventually learns is called the Brairpatch, he discovers a place that is only limited by possibilities. One chaotic scene is bordered by something else nearly as impossible.
However, Darrin is far from alone in his knowledge of the Brairpatch. An immortal named Ismael has been searching the Brairpatch for centuries?looking for an entrance into what he believes is, at least a sort of, Heaven. He is willing to use and sacrifice anyone to get a step closer to his goal. When he thinks that Darrin might be able to see passages through the Brairpatch that he cannot, no trick or manipulation becomes too low in his quest to use Darrin to further his goals.
This is one of those books where I can?t really tell you too much, for telling you almost anything could ruin the reader?s experience. I will tell you that there is a car called the Wendigo that could be a God and if you are in the Brairpatch, never go near the bears.
Pratt keeps his story pretty tight, but if I had to think of potential drawbacks of the book, they could be that the Brairpatch itself is a barren place?mostly an unpopulated wasteland. It might have been interesting to have a greater feeling for the positives that could be found there. All the story?s characters are strong, but although Darrin is damaged goods, he still seems a little slow in grasping what is really happening to him. If a tenth of what occurred to him, had happened to me, I?d be going wild with a desire to figure out what the hell was going on.
Despite these small issues, Brairpatch is a strong and entertaining book. You wouldn?t have to just like Speculative Fiction to enjoy this one. It might be fun to buy this one for your mother and really blow her mind. This is one of those books that you want to finish and it might bonk you in the face when you are reading in bed, way too late, on a work night.
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