Softspoken - Lucius Shepard

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Yeah, didn't expect the opportunity to get stuck into one of the Night Shade books, but have already completed Lucius Shepard's Softspoken. Partially because its such a dinky size, and at 180 pages (including the bonus limited edition content) slightly above a novella.

In essence it's a tale of a twisted family tree; a marriage on the rocks; a lust to be free and single once more. The setting in deepest America brought back memories of Joe Hill's Heart Shaped Box, but there the similarities end. Sanie's husband returns to the family home, where he seems to be the head to enable his detailed law studies to continue, taking his wife away from all her comforts and friends. Then she begins to hear voices.

Shepard has created a weird dysfunctional family, who seem to specialise in the odd, despite their obvious intelligence. Sanie begins to unravel mentally and physically, engaging in drugs and hanging out drinking beer, watching American Football. She is the central focus of the story, with plenty of other supporting characters trying to force their viewpoints.

All positive stuff then? Actually not, the storyline really failed to develop for me, with the final third being a disappointment. The ending really is one you have to read a few times, or just debate in your mind before making any sense of the conclusion. Overall Shepard has tried to inject new twists into staple generic settings such as the Deep South, haunted houses and 'redneck' life, but in the end the story loses it's way.

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