A Wistful Tale of Gods, Men, and Monsters by David Ruggerio is set in the tiny New York village of Brunswick. It’s a postcard-perfect autumnal setting, with lovely cider-worthy orchards, fields of giant orange pumpkins, golden rows of corn and wheat, and that close-knit feel that only rural hamlets can offer. Brunswick is also a place full of sinister darkness, where an ancient legend walks the nights.
I found this to be quite an interesting read! My favorite location is the funeral home. Giant stained glass of purgatory? Check. Bizarre door handle shaped like a bony arm? Check. Massive entryway painting of Cronos eating his children? Check. And it was run by a person named Hades, of all things!
The novel follows many points of view. The main ones are William, and the brothers Joey and Bobby. Later, Sheriff Tom takes a bigger role. Between them are what I came to think of as snapshot POVs that provide the history of the town, and little vignettes that show us how players both major and minor found themselves a part of the current tale. I enjoyed these tidbits of history and legend of the local region and the glimpses into the characters’ pasts. My favorite of these had to be the radio DJ Johnny B, and Sheriff Tom. Hades’ was interesting too, and rather sad. These snapshots flowed together with ease, enriching the story at hand.
This was a wonderful ode to the mysteries, fears, and delights of the things that haunt the night. It is a horror novel that blends elements of X-Files, Supernatural, and Stranger Things, that harkens back to old school horror. It made me think of what you might get if directors Tim Burton and Guillermo del Toro collaborated on a book. Recommended if you enjoy horror novels of the slow-build kind, with little of the slash and gore action.
Reviewed by J. Aislynn d’Merricksson, SAN FRANCISCO BOOK REVIEW