You know how sometimes a guest will come on a talk show and all they want to do is plug their new movie? Well, this is kind of like that, only worse. This is how it would be if Johnny Carson (because I’m old and can’t stay awake to watch the current shows) used his own show to plug his new movie.
Here I am (for the second week in a row, no less) corrupting my own cozy little family blog with book promotion. Well, at least it’s not a movie. Either way, it’s dreadfully annoying, right?
Blame my kids. They’re growing up, and they don’t inspire so many cute stories by doing adorable things as they did when they were toddlers. Yeah, Big Man still refers to pulled pork or ground sausage as “chicken” sometimes, but how many heartwarming stories can you squeeze out of that? Face it, teenagers and pre-teens are just not the blogging goldmine that little kids are. In a sense, my creative team has gone on strike forever.
So, we’re left with book promotion.
The book will be out later this month. Meanwhile I got a pre-publication review from BookLife. Apparently, they ran out of space for the part where they say, “Best book ever!” but that’s okay, I prefer they don’t put too may spoilers in the review anyway. Here it is: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Actually, I didn’t put an author photo on the cover, so that cut down significantly on the ugly.
This fascinating supernatural tale from Nagele (A Housefly in Autumn), told in an offhanded style that keeps readers off balance, opens with five-year-old Emma’s asking, at a family dinner, about “The Other Place.” She has recurring dreams of a mysterious being, The Gatekeeper, who takes her from present-day Pennsylvania to a late nineteenth century farm where she sees an older girl, Mary Ellen, who looks very much like Emma. For mysterious reasons, the Gatekeeper repeatedly forces Emma to get the other girl in trouble by setting fires—and he threatens to harm Emma’s parents, Rob and Marcia, if she disobeys. Rob and Marcia alternate between dismissing Emma’s dreams to fearing that she might be losing her grip on reality, echoing the thinking of Alex and Janet, Mary Ellen’s parents. That couple frequently beats Mary Ellen, as punishment for the fires, and The Gatekeeper urges her to take murderous revenge.
Quick paced and unsettling, The Other Place offers readers teasing mysteries to work through along with Emma’s parents. One surprising thread: what is the connection between The Gatekeeper and the song version of William Hughes Mearns’s poem “Antigonish”? As Emma’s dreams increasingly seem like they might be real, she finds herself inside Mary Ellen’s mind, fighting to keep Mary Ellen from being driven to murder, while Rob and Marcia eventually accept that their daughter is not delusional, they struggle to save both girls from The Gatekeeper.
Nagele weaves an intriguing story about families, childhood, the supernatural, self-sacrifice, and innocence both lost and saved, though the pace and pared-down language come at the expense of fleshing out the characters, especially Emma and her family. Scenes of abuse and terrorized children will put off some readers, but Emma’s fight to save Mary Ellen from evil is admirable, her determination and kindness shining through. The Other Place is rich in detail of the places past and present, and readers of horror-tinged historical mysteries will be intrigued to learn more about Glenn Miller and William Hughes Mearns.
Sorry Johnny, but you know how it is when the writers go on strike.