Friday, April 22, 2016

New Review! Absolute Sunset by Kata Mlek, 4 high rated Cranky Stars

Absolute Sunset is rated a high four on the Twisty-Cranky scale.

I've described this book as beautifully strange and I mean that in the best possible way.

Set in post-communist Poland, a stultifying, bleak place, the story revolves around three main characters: Hanka (daughter), Janusz (father), and Sabina (mother), trapped in domestic horror where poverty and circumstances has reduced nearly all of their options.

As a child, Hanka is visited by the raven in her dreams. The raven is a malevolent presence bringing visions of horror that may, in fact, be prophetic.

Combined with cryptic messages of impending danger and doom, the raven is an omen, both a friend and tormenter, and an angel and a demon. He may also symbolize more than prophecy. Something grounded beyond the world of dreams and squarely in "this" one.

As tragedies unfold and the raven's prophecies increase, Hanka is sucked into the vortex. To play the games and try to gain her freedom.

This is a masterclass of theme and tone. Dark, bleak, and twisty. It's part psychological thriller, part suspense, and part horror. It has supernatural elements and is also, a meditation on domestic horror that happens behind closed doors and is covertly endorsed in the environment in which it takes place. Unhappiness is the default position, a constructed and accepted natural state.

The work is vivid and compelling. The plot, narrative, characters, and events push you along at a breakneck pace. The surreality of situations keeps you guessing.

Absolute Sunset missed being a five star read by "this" much. Primarily, for two reasons 1) I found the parenthesis included in the narrative distracting. It dragged me out of the story. I didn't want to be dragged out of this story. I wanted to be immersed in its languid prose of unfolding horror. 2) There is a bit of head hopping where you swap from one character's point of view in the same paragraph and into the other's in the next. 

This writer has an enormous amount of talent and I will be certainly reading any more works from her. If you love suspense, thriller, mystery, and musings on the human social condition, pick this up. You won't be disappointed.

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