Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Odd Adventures with Your Other Father, by Norman Prentiss

Today I'm looking at a book I picked up on sale on Amazon, Odd Adventures with Your Other Father. This book contains two stories that complement each other. The first starts out as a framing story but eventually evolves into its own story. The second is a collection of stories, the titular odd adventures, which provides character background and provides the eerie, otherworldly feel to the book. Overall I though this was a pretty good book, and I'm not a huge fan of horror in the first place. It's not strictly a horror novel but it definitely feels like it shares certain elements with that genre, in addition to being a little science-fictiony.

This book is about a girl named Celia who gradually learns of the adventures her two fathers had in the 1980's after graduating from college. These stories are told to her by her Dad Shawn, to help her get to know her Dad Jack after he died of cancer when she was only four years old.

Jack and Shawn met in college and fell in love and after Jack won an award they took a year-long road trip across the United States, investigating little out of the way places an mysterious spots. Along the way, Jack and Shawn ran into a number of things that any sane person would dismiss as impossible. Vampires, werewolves, demons, succubi, all manner of horror story monsters. Most mysterious of all of these is Jack's ability to project a glamour.

Jack is capable of creating incredibly detailed images utilizing the power of his imagination and projecting them onto real-life objects. Unfortunately, Jack's ability comes with two significant drawbacks. First, the only person capable of seeing Jack's glamours is Shawn. Why this should be they're not sure, but they suspect it's something to do with the deep bond of love they share. Secondly, Jack's only capable of making things look worse. Jack can only make things look scarier, creepier, or more terrifying than they are in reality. Fortunately Jack and Shawn manage to find ways to utilize this ability despite its drawbacks and it actually saves their lives more than a few times.

The other story is Celia discovering more about her fathers and their past, doing research on her own and making plans to find out bits that Shawn chose to redact or omit. Eventually it becomes Celia's own story of discovery and growth, as well as healing wounds left by Jack's death.

As I said, I thought this book was pretty good. It's creepy, but I feel like it manages to not be too creepy. Some of Jack's earliest experiments with his glamour utilize a healthy dose of blood, guts, and gore but thankfully that doesn't come up too much in the rest of the stories. Granted, I say that because I'm not a huge fan of gore myself, usually I find it quite distasteful, but I think Prentiss did a really good job with his writing.

I also feel like Prentiss did a really good job of portraying the love between Shawn and Jack and that special tie that they shared. It especially comes across when we find out about the different misadventures they had and some of what Shawn had to go through for Jack's sake, and vice versa. Celia has a little bit of awkwardness in explaining her family, but as someone who lost a parent in childhood myself I can understand it being awkward and it feels genuine, compounded with the still ''unusual'' status of same-sex couples in the United States. Perhaps this portrayal will become dated with age, but I think it fits very well with the current era.

If you like horror, I think this is definitely worth your time to check out. And even if you're not a horror fan like me, I think there's still a lot about this book to enjoy and a lot to learn. Because if nothing else, there's a lot of love in this book, and that's definitely something the world could use more of.

- Kalpar

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