Review: C. Robert Cales – The Bookseller

The Bookseller
C. Robert Cales
John is going to be responsible for releasing evil. Carlos is an evil dictator. The Booksellers are both the captain and the slave of otherworldly disasters. When their lives come together, it is payback time on evil.
Half-way through the novel, the three sets of stories being told still hadn’t interacted. I had pretty much no interest in John and Sally’s storyline, Carlos’ one was just brutal and not all together manageable, and the only one I did have interest in, the one of the booksellers, seemed so plain and wrapped up in love that I felt vaguely sick.
Why did I keep reading this novel? I can’t say for sure. I wasn’t particularly interested in the characters, but I did want to see how things turned out. Surely it would improve? I’d read one or two pages at a time, while waiting for the rest of my work to finish, then drift away again with no regrets.
I felt sometimes like I was just floating outside the world. I looked in on the novel, observed the painstakingly slow progress of its characters through a too-familiar landscape, and looked away again without having felt any richer for the attempt.
I was just so disappointed in the style of the novel. I think I found it online through one of the traditional/mainstream publishers, and I expected it to be polished and to be completely spellbound by it. Instead I got a novel that wanted to tell me things, had an incredibly annoying style of dialogue and a frustrating, ever changing world view.
So, let’s talk about the characters. Each of the roughs in Carlos’ gang were pretty much identical. They all had the same motivations of money, and they were all evil bastards. The author tried to give them distinguishing characteristics, continually referring to tattoos and hairstyles, but I would have remember those myself had they had been introduced to me in a memorable way, with names that didn’t all end with ‘o’. I can appreciate the cultural setting, but ugh, it just wasn’t enough.
The blurb of the novel gave away what was happening too soon. I spent most of the novel waiting for things to happen, and then when they did happen, the storyline, which so far had been quite believable, took a turn for the worse.
This is one of the most promising storylines I have read in a book I would rate 2 stars. If you have a ‘thing’ for good vs evil novels, then this could be for you. But for me, the glacial pace of the novel, combined with the poor storytelling style had me waiting for the novel to finish, rather than enjoying reading it.

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