By Ken Brosky

Reviewed by Sue Phillips

The cover image shows a stark landscape, leafless trees against a dark red sky. Reading through the blurb on the back gave me the feeling that I was likely to thoroughly enjoy Grendel. It appeared to be a very nicely turned out book with dark secrets inside. Two stories have been woven together: the Beowulf myth, recently made into a film, and that of Tyler Leto, a high flying company executive. Tyler dies momentarily and finds himself in hell, where he comes face to face with the angel Ariel, before being dragged back to the land of the living when his heart is restarted. Unfortunately, Ariel has managed to acquire something during that brief moment, which ensures that Tyler is pulled back there whenever he falls asleep. He must try to find a way to escape, before he becomes a permanent resident. The story is imaginative, with lots of twists and turns, dipping from one plane of existence to another neatly so that the reader always knows as much as the narrator about where he is.

I did find certain insurmountable problems that prevented me from enjoying this book as much as I had hoped, the main one being a sneaking suspicion that the author had been advised by Mrs Malaprop. A connected, but lesser issue was caused by the fact that the book was written over several years and severely edited to around half its original size, leaving tangible gaps in the flow. Technology moved forward apace during this time, as did the associated terminology. Our hero was using a cellular telephone at the beginning of the book, yet by the end, ostensibly a few days later, it was referred to as a mobile. Now, this is not actually wrong in any technical sense, but was not credible either.

All in all, this was a good first effort that could have done with just one more run through with the editor's pencil.

Grendel by Ken Brosky. Paperback, 275pp, $21.95. Published by Brew City Press and available through Amazon US

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