REVIEW: The Year of the Storm by John Mantooth

TheYearoftheStorm When Danny was fourteen, his mother and sister disappeared during a violent storm. The police were baffled. There were no clues, and most people figured they were dead.  Only Danny still holds out hope that they’ll return.   Months later, a disheveled Vietnam vet named Walter Pike shows up at Danny’s front door, claiming to know their whereabouts. The story he tells is so incredible that Danny knows he shouldn’t believe him. Others warn him about Walter Pike’s dark past, his shameful flight from town years ago, and the suspicious timing of his return.   But he’s Danny’s last hope, and Danny needs to believe

John Mantooth's debut novel, THE YEAR OF THE STORM, is a must read for 2013. Seriously, pre-order it here. You'll be surprised that the novel is his debut - I was when I read his short story collection, SHOEBOX TRAIN WRECK, last year and found that it was his first major publication. The wonderfully dark collection held a strong aura of an established author, one whose work I couldn't wait to dive back into. Alas, when I searched for another book by Mantooth, all I could find was 'coming in 2013.' Needless to say, given that SBTW was my favorite book of 2012, I had high hopes for THE YEAR OF THE STORM.

I recently had the great pleasure of reading an uncorrected proof from the publisher and it was a rare book to exceed my high expectations. I think it can be difficult for a reader to transition to a novel after reading an author's short fiction (especially  authors like Mantooth, whose stories pack an emotional wallop that the page can barely contain.) But Mantooth successfully expands upon his realm of dark fiction in the novel, maintaining the level of detail and prose throughout.  It feels like you're sitting down with an old raconteur and listening to him weave his favorite yarn. You have to slow down when you read this book, soak it all in. The prose is rich and atmosphere will linger on your mind.

Other reviews, including a blurb from author Frank Bill, have compared THE YEAR OF THE STORM to Stephen King's THE BODY and Tom Franklin's CROOKED LETTER, CROOKED LETTER. To me, THE YEAR OF THE STORM is the essential dark coming-of-age journey that you should have on your shelf. It wades into the mystical nature of childhood memories and adult reflection, touching on bullying, abuse, homophobia, hope, loss, loyalty, family, loneliness - details and themes handled with rare beauty that will leave readers reflecting on their own childhood.

Give it a pre-order and help create some buzz for the novel. And while you're at it, pick up SHOEBOX TRAIN WRECK - it will hold you over until June.

THE YEAR OF THE STORM by John Mantooth releases June 4, 2013.

THE YEAR OF THE STORM LINKS     Goodreads     Amazon     Mantooth