Have you read this book?
After my last experience with a POD (Publish on Demand) book (The Wizard’s Wife) I was leery when Dave (the webmaster) offered me another one. Davidson’s Immortal: A Linking of Souls looked promising, but it’s still POD and the stigma is that the book wasn’t good enough to get picked up by a traditional publisher.
I was tempted to decline, but I’d heard of Davidson. He’s had short fiction published in various places and is also the editor and publisher of Night Terrors (a print pub) and Crimson (an ezine). So the hints were there that this wasn’t going to be your run-of-the-mill I-went-POD-because-every-publishing-house-on-the-face-of-the-Earth-rejected-it book. And I was right.
Immortal: A Linking of Souls is good. And that’s sort of a shame, because it could have been REALLY good.
The set-up: a future world parallel to our own is ruled by an all-powerful scientist-magician who feeds on the very life force of the world and those who inhabit it to keep himself alive. Yet despite his science and magic, he is dying. To make himself truly immortal, he embarks on a course of action that threatens the future existance of our world (which is really the future world he already lives in. Make sense?). A handful of seemingly ordinary folk are the only ones that might be able to stop him. A standard, but fertile setup.
In our world and time, in your typical small town, there have been a series of brutal murders that defy all explanation. They don’t even seem to have been committed by anything remotely human. Jeremy Wheeler, a middle aged man with an obsessive affection for firearms, finds his settled and somewhat monotonous life interupted one morning by a strange visit from a gnome-like creature who informs him that he is a link between the current world and the sorceror-scientist who rules the future world in the parallel universe. Jeremy is the lynchpin who will either enable or prevent the scientist-magision’s plan from succeeding and determine the evil guy’s ultimate fate.
Somewhat skeptical, it takes a series of inexplicable events to convince Jeremy that the gnomish man was right. He outfits himself for battle and, accompanied by Hank, the local sherriff (who’s had his own run in with the extrordinary) sets out to save the world. He meets a variety of interesting characters, some helpful and some not, on his journey, including a wife he has yet to meet, a boy, Mark Scott, who was also drawn into the future world, and his own son (who has yet to be born by the woman he met who is his future wife-to-be in his original time where he hasn’t met her yet). Confused? So was I. Immortal: A Linking of Souls is an enjoyable read, but it’s fairly convoluted because of the past/future thing. There were many times where I was unable to connect what I was reading with what was currently going on in the book. Davidson likes to include snippets of events that the characters were remembering that had yet to happen. Are these snippets things yet to happen? Or things that did happen? Or things the MIGHT happen? For me, they often broke the flow of the narrative and left me rubbing my chin and wondering how what I’d just read tied into the story. In all fairness, everything comes together decently at the end, but that didn’t help me when I was in the middle wondering what the heck was going on.
With a little bit of professional help, I think this could have been a great book. An experienced editor could have helped him smooth his narrative and plot and make the story more cohesive. A proofreader is a must. Davidson is a talented writer, but it’s a raw and unrefined talent. He succeeds by sheer strength of narrative and vision. Here is a perfect example where talent exceeds craft and experience. His sentences get the job done, but they are often clumsy. His commas show up in odd and incorrect places. He misspells or mistypes some words (the kind a spell checker won’t catch, like hat for that). A bit more attention on character development would have helped his characters distinguish themselves (none of the characters seem to have much of a past). Conrad Lupone (the gnome) is the most memorable, and he didn’t even play a large role. There’s a lot of creative energy here, not quite all thrust and no vector, but close. Immortal: A Linking of Souls is a rough diamond in need of a good cutting and polidhing, and going the POD route didn’t accomplish that.
Yet despite its flaws, it’s well-worth reading. It’s bursting with potential. Here’s an apocalyptic dark fantasy work that has hints of King, Koontz, Straub and more. More than once while reading it I made a comparison to The Stand and The Dark Tower series, both by Stephen King (The Stand is one of my all time favorites).
Davidson mentions that he’s hard at work on more books. I encourage him to seek professional editorial help and to find a good proofreader (both essential if he’s going to continue to use the POD solution). Instead of POD though, he ought to try traditional publishers. With some refining, I think his work would fit on a shelf next to more well known names very nicely.