The Burnt Fox

The Burnt Fox
ISBN: 9781780363035, Peach Publishing, an e-book by Neil Grimmett.

Plot/Characters: Eliot and Donna with young son Bradley are living in a row house in the now somewhat deteriorated council estates. He is a former bass player in a local band and now a frustrated writer. She is a studying nursing, part time employed in the profession and a stanch believer in ‘women’s lib’. Their marriage is ‘shaky’ and when he finds an ad for employment on the estate of Philip and Clarissa Compton, they decide to go for an interview. They are accepted, provided with a house, salary and assigned their duties. He is a general handyman and servant doing menial jobs as well as caring for the horses and functioning as gamekeeper for the owner’s hunts. The mansion’s grounds here at Cloothill are extensive including a large farm overseen by Tobias, a rather crude person who can be charming to women and Donna finds most attractive. The Compton’s au pair, Rebecca, a young woman from Prague, is attracted to Eliot, as well as others, and he is to her. A number of lesser characters contribute to the action in varying degrees as the story progresses through the mundane activities as well as somewhat interesting and unusual activities such as dehorning, weighing and inoculating cattle, a fox hunt and pheasant gunning occasion. The finale is what could be expected but may be unfulfilling to some.

Discussion: A synopsis states this is: “Unflinching and sexually charged, The Burnt Fox is a startling depiction of the unsavory side of life in rural England.” This no doubt is true. However, underlying this fact is the author’s attempt to provide a tale wherein an overlying dark cloud is generated by an intangible feeling of the presence of an all-encompassing malignancy arising from past evil, and affecting all interpersonal activity within its realm. The attempt has been interesting and in part successful, but in this reviewer’s opinion, would benefit from a more thorough development of the characters, or perhaps even change some of them to an extent. As provided, they are ‘making excuses’ in assignment of blame for their actions and ultimate decisions. I suggest that individuals read this book, examine it from this aspect, and decide for themselves – are the protagonists ‘making excuses’ or are they really being affected by an ‘evil presence’?

Conclusion: A thought-provoking tale by an accomplished author that really ‘invites’ readers’ analysis. It may have lesser appeal for other than a British audience because of a need for the reader’s understanding/acceptance of the class system that to some extent still exists within this country.

3*     4* Tale ‘asking for’ reader analysis; 3* caveat – probably of greater interest to British readers

Connected

Connected
ISBN: 9781617981555, Wild Child Publishing, an e-book edited by Leslie Karen Lutz, authored by Kat Stiles.

Characters/Plot: The plot actually is quite complex with several threads and many questions, some of whose answers are revealed as the story continues. A number of characters are variously interrelated. The story begins when teen-age Emily (Em) is struck and thrown into the air by a drunken driver who stops, determines she still is breathing and leaves. She feels a tremendous heat generating and awakens to find there is no damage. She discovers through the school nurse (Judy) that she has the gift of ‘healing’. Somehow this is associated with a tendency for her hands to perspire heavily so as to be an embarrassment in school. One thread of the plot follows a ‘coming of age’ theme with Angel the leader of the group making her life miserable. Next introduced is her one good friend Roz, whose father has been like a father to her – her father having been sent away by her mother for believing he had acted inappropriately with the child (which may have some substance because we learn later that her mother insists she visit a psychiatrist because of disturbing dreams she has repeatedly.) Emily’s mother Anne is extremely involved in a job that requires odd hours and besides is quite a difficult person with whom to equate. Lauren, her older sister who has problems of her own, is constantly dominant. Tommy, transfers from another school after ‘getting in trouble’, and is attracted to Emily. As the story progresses we further discover that Tommy has unusual sensual (hearing, sight, olfactory) sensitivity and Roz is clairvoyant. The second major thread evolves when their collective powers are brought to bear in searching for a murderer and the tale introduces several more characters. The story’s ending provides an extension of one thread that initiates what may be assumed to be a forthcoming sequel.

Discussion/Conclusion: The author has set forth a thriller/mystery/romance with a touch of the occult that is somewhat unique. More especially it is a book for the teen/pre-teen reader. However, the uniqueness lies in the fact that it has enough of an interesting opening and theme to stimulate to an extent the interest of more mature readers. Admittedly, the later will need to ‘overlook’ the more obviously youth oriented story to follow the interesting tale.

4* Intriguing tale for young readers even the more mature may find interesting.