Monday, May 05, 2008

Book Review: The Harlequin & The Train by Paul G. Tremblay

Every Monday, I'll be doing spoiler-free, bite-sized book reviews.

I'm conflicted in which stands out the most in this novella. On one hand, Tremblay proves again that he is a skilled writer as far as the prose goes. He's managed to truly horrify readers, not through sheer gross-out scenes or sudden shocks, but by unraveling the motivations and psyche of his characters and The Harlequin & The Train is no different; this book bears Tremblay's signature brand of terror that is both subtle and easy to get into. The other thing to be praised is the form of the story. The Harlequin & The Train interacts with the reader as the author asks you to highlight various words throughout the narrative and it might seem arbitrary at first but it is relevant both to the theme and the ending. Also, Tremblay successfully re-creates the atmosphere of a moving train, whether it's through his build-up (slow at first, impossible to put down by the time you reach the end) or his chapter headings (which only start making sense as you progress through the novella). The form of The Harlequin & The Train might seem cosmetic but I think it synthesizes well with the theme and message the author attempts to convey in the book and is just as subtle as his prose. Overall a recommended read for readers who want something original and goes beyond the norm when it comes to fiction, horror or otherwise.

Rating: 3.5/5.

Rating System:

1 - There are better ways to spend your time.
2 - Ho hum books, usually typical of its genre. Probably only recommendable to die-hard fans.
3 - A cut above the rest, usually with one or more elements that sets it apart from the norm.
4 - Highly recommended and is easily a pioneer of the genre.
5 - A classic or it will be.

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