With an unfortunate lack of focus and unclear sense of genre, this tale becomes increasingly problematic throughout. The premise is promising: Jacob Leviathan is single-handedly fighting monsters with a harpoon in the rugged 1920s & 1930s Ozarks. This is the stuff of tall tales and legends and promises to be treated as such down to Jacob’s supernaturally long-lived dog, Methuselah. The monsters in questions are seemingly a form of dragon [predatory supernatural reptiles that disguise as trees and thorns] called “jimplicutes.” He also virtually adopts a young abused girl that has a jimplicute on her trail.
The problems with the novel start with the narrator’s use of overwrought, passive prose almost Victorian in nature, possibly to indicate the area and era of the tale. But the narrator is not of that era and makes it perfectly clear that a) this is a tale, and b) a tale of a bygone era at that.
Then the story layers on allegory, Narnia-style. Many of the character names are Christian co-opted from the Old Testament. The corrupted academic [university never named] that studies but does not believe the local tales, is given the heavily Jewish name, Mordecai, in the first hints of anti-Semitism. Mordecai goes on to be corrupted by a “false book” that is never elaborated on, “steals” the impressionable adopted daughter, and later craves killing and carving men. This character’s actions, movements and motivations are never explained to make him feel real.
Late in the book, the Christian iconography starts to layer up with an Aslan-like panther that appears twice in the tale surrounded by a bevy of regal eagles. Despite only showing in only two very brief scenes, the panther manages to acquire the Christian stigmata in each scene [bleeding from all four paws and his side] as if one such scene was not enough to establish the intent.
The original Ozark legend is lost amid the later religious allegory such that even the half dozen epilogue chapters cannot pull the parts together cohesively.
I received my copy of this novel directly from the author through bookreviewdirectory.wordpress.com.
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