Hello, friends, I am overdue for a book review and I’m a poet, doncha know it :) Silliness aside, I’m reviewing Kevin Brennan’s latest novel, Fascination. If you’ve been a follower of my blog for any length of time, then you know I’m a yuge fan of Kevin’s writing (and I kind of like the guy too). Fascination is also special because Kevin is selling his novel by himself, no middle man for this man. He calls it #guerillapublishing. I hope you enjoy the review and do, please do, buy the novel!
Mary looked jealously at the colorful display on her cousin Maggie’s laptop, her feelings deepening as Maggie scrolled through the novel, showing her the pictures included with the novel they were to discuss that night. Even the stark landscape of Colorado was appealing with its white clouds, soft blue sky and camel-colored earth. She smiled tightly, not wanting to let Maggie to even have a hint of her feelings, but still, she did enjoy her Kindle Paperwhite. And, now that she thought about it, the black and white version of the photos gave the novel a darker undercurrent, one she could still feel under her skin.
“The thing about Brennan’s novels is that he always creates characters and stories that get under my skin.”
Mary looked up, startled to hear Randy echo her own thoughts. It was as if he knew her better than she knew herself, much like Clive knew Sally better than she knew herself. These two characters in Fascination, this latest novel by Kevin Brennan, were two people she wasn’t likely to ever forget.
Randy took a sip of his coffee and then resumed as Mary and her two cousins, Maggie and Melissa, gave him their attention.
“On the surface of this novel, it’s a crazy kind of a road trip for a crazy kind of reason. There’s a lot of humor in Fascination, with everything and everyone being fair game for a pun. But there’s a sadness too, especially with Sally. She is so naive and your heart just aches for her to understand what’s she’s doing to herself and the people around her.”
Melissa nodded her head a bit aggressively, as if to be sure that she would be the next to share her two cents. But first they all had to wait for her to swallow a bit of iced lemon scone.
“I’m not sure if she was really naive about Mason, her dead-but-not-really-dead husband. I mean, at first, she thinks they have a good marriage and he doesn’t really do anything to give her a clue that he’s wanting to leave her. Then when she realizes that his suicide was faked, she won’t let it go. She has to find him, even though doing so might mean that she won’t get the $500,000 insurance money.”
“And all because he wanted a kid, someone to carry on his name — Speck.” Maggie snorted. She had to admit to herself that she didn’t have much empathy for Mason. Her late husband Bobby had been A-OK when she told him, before they married, that she wasn’t interested in having children. She had never felt the urge and tended to look at babies as if they were miniature aliens.
“Yes, it does seem extreme for someone to fake a suicide just so they can plant the seed, or speck, with someone else. But that’s part of the appeal of Fascination, don’t you think?” As usual, Mary was asking a rhetorical question. “The characters are quirky, in ways that make you feel fond of them, but they’re also flawed. And desperate. Everyone is just trying to find their place in the world–”
“And with each other,” Maggie interrupted. “Even Stan and Jack, the guys at the Fascination parlor that Sally frequents, there’s some kind of history there. They have influence. As she visits other parlors on her road trip with Clive, their names secure her safety as well as help her earn some cash.”
“Which not everybody really likes because she has a preternatural gift with that game.” Randy smiled as he reached for a chocolate chip scone. What he would give for a gift like that.
“And don’t forget Warren Peeth and all those puns that Clive was so fond of making, almost like he couldn’t help himself.” Maggie laughed out loud. “I even found myself laughing out loud, or groaning depending on the pun. Warren Peeth — that definitely got a groan.”
Melissa made a half-hearted attempt at stifling her own laughter. “What about Berries Manilow?”
Randy snorted and then grabbed a napkin as coffee dripped from his nose.
“What about the Secret Society of the Mauve Maidenhead or those crazy, bald people at Homewood Place? Poor Clive. With his mutton-chop sideburns and pork pie hat, he was really out of place.” Mary paused to sip her coffee. “And yet, it was at Homewood Place where Sally and Clive had their confrontation.” She looked down at her hands. That confrontation had hit Mary hard. “You know, sometimes … Brennan just catches me off-guard.”
Maggie and Melissa looked at Mary, their heads tilted toward her, as if beckoning her to continue. Randy, sitting directly across from her, reached his hands forward slightly, as if making them available in case she needed to hold on.
“What I mean is, I’m reading this novel and going merrily along with these funny characters, this not-really-funny-but-actually-kind-of-funny fake suicide, this road trip of discovery and deception and potholes full of puns … and then suddenly it’s not funny. I find myself trying to not cry. I find myself arguing, in my head with myself, that maybe this relationship is just not meant to be.”
“Like with Occasional Soulmates.” Maggie spoke softly, recalling the surprise but ultimately satisfying ending to that Brennan novel.
“Yes. So, like that. But I had to keep reading. The story was just so compelling. But what a experience and as the story unfolded, I don’t believe it could have happened any other way. And I was relieved it happened as it did!”
“Oh, truly!” Melissa broke in. “Just like with his other novels, you get a bit scared, thinking “uh, oh, things aren’t going the way I want them to.” But things go the way they should go, the only way they can once you understand the characters and their history. Brennan draws his characters slowly, with a lot of subtlety. And just like with his other novels, I felt good about the ending. It really fit.”
“Exactly, and that’s what I really enjoyed about Fascination. He takes the reader on a road trip, giving you experiences that you may never have in real life, introducing you to characters you wish you could meet in real life, and leaves you with an ending that is as much of your own making as his.” Randy stood up and started to clear the dishes. He felt like he was finally getting the hang of these book club discussions.
Well, dear friend, I hope this review has whet your appetite for a fascinating novel. You can get a copy for your favorite ebook device from the author himself, Kevin Brennan, at this link: https://kevinbrennanbooks.wordpress.com/buy-fascination/
It’s easy peasy and you can pay as little as $3.99 or as much as you like. Consider the cost of some of those bestselling lesser novels on Amazon and you’ll realize what a deal this truly is!