Sunday, July 5, 2020

Book Review: These Nameless Things by Shawn Smucker

Title: These Nameless Things
Author: Shawn Smucker
Publisher: Revell
Publication Date: June 30th 2020
Print Length: 336 pages
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
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Before Dan opened his door to find a wounded woman who had escaped from the tormentors in the mountain, his life had become rather quiet. He and the eight other people in the mostly abandoned town had become friends. They spent peaceful evenings around the campfire and even made vague plans to journey east one day and leave the ominous mountain behind.

But the woman's arrival changes everything.

Who is she? How does she know so much about Dan's brother, who is still held captive in the mountain? Why are long-forgotten memories rising to the surface? And why does Dan feel so compelled to keep her presence in his house a secret?

Visionary writer Shawn Smucker is back with an unsettling story that invites us to consider two challenging questions: To what lengths will we go to assuage our own guilt? and Is there a limit to the things we will do for the people we love?

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MY REVIEW:
When I read the synopsis for These Nameless Things by Shawn Smucker, I knew it was a book I had to read. It ticked all the right boxes for me. Luckily, this book did not disappoint!

The plot was very interesting. Dan lives in an idyllic small village. Everyone is happy and friendly until a beautiful woman arrives at Dan's door on the verge of death. Dan doesn't tell anyone about her as he nurses her back to health. However, strange things start happening. The crops don't grow right,  and people are regaining painful memories they had long forgotten. When the mysterious woman convinces Dan to go back through the mountain, a place he had been tormented at and had escaped, to fetch his brother who is stuck there, Dan is torn. He misses his brother like crazy. All the while Dan is left wondering who this strange woman is who has a strong pull over him, and why does she want him to go back to the horrible place he came from to save his brother so badly.

How amazing does that plot sound!?! The plot for These Nameless Things was solid, and it helps very much that Shawn Smucker is a very talented writer. Smucker has a way with words. The way he wrote and described everything really helped make it easy to envision everything that was unfolding second by second. He was able to put so much description into everything, but Smucker doesn't overdo it to the point where it becomes boring to read. He creates a very nice balance. I will say that the first third of the book is fairly slow pacing, but I kept reading because I did want to know more about Dan's brother and how the mysterious woman was connected to everything. For my perseverance, I was richly rewarded. The last two thirds of the book really took off! I found myself hooked on every single word, hungry for as much as I could get. I did not want to put this book down at all. I had to know what was going to happen to everyone. Yes, some of it was predictable, but it was a fantastic read nonetheless. While I would have liked to read some sort of epilogue or had more knowledge in what happened to everyone some time later, I think These Nameless Things ends well enough, and everything is explained leading up to the ending.

I felt that every character in These Nameless Things was fleshed out very well. By the middle of the book (perhaps even sooner than that), I felt like I had become friends with everyone mentioned in the book. It was easy to picture each and every character as a real life person (mostly thanks to Shawn Smucker's excellent writing again). I did feel that although the character of Dan was written superbly, he came across as a bit selfish for the most part. I felt like he put people in so much danger by keeping secrets. I did love Miho and Lucia very much. Miho seemed to be the biggest voice of reason throughout the book. I just loved Lucia because she made me feel hopeful and happy. Abe was my favorite character though. I loved how optimistic he could become and how much he cared for everyone. He was the leader of the village, and I admired how seriously he took this title. It was obvious how much love he had for all of his village. I would love an Abe in my life. He had such a soothing presence.

Trigger warnings for These Nameless Things include minor violence, death, a mention of rape, and alcoholism.

Overall, These Nameless Things is a highly interesting read that makes you reflect on your own feelings and how you react to them. With Shawn Smucker's fantastic prose, this book makes it easy to get hooked. I would definitely recommend These Nameless Things by Shawn Smucker to those aged 17+ who are after well written novels with a touch of philosophy.
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(A special thank you to the publisher for sending me a paperback of These Nameless Things by Shawn Smucker in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.)

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