I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.American Elsewhere by Robert Jackson Bennett
Published by Orbit on February 12th 2013
Genres: Fantasy, Horror, Sci-fi
Source: the Publisher
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Also by this author: Foundryside
Some places are too good to be true.
Under a pink moon, there is a perfect little town not found on any map.
In that town, there are quiet streets lined with pretty houses, houses that conceal the strangest things.
After a couple years of hard traveling, ex-cop Mona Bright inherits her long-dead mother's home in Wink, New Mexico. And the closer Mona gets to her mother's past, the more she understands that the people of Wink are very, very different ...
From one of our most talented and original new literary voices comes the next great American supernatural novel: a work that explores the dark dimensions of the hometowns and the neighbors we thought we knew.
‘…it is always quiet near homes like this, and it is always ill-advised to venture out at night in Wink. Everyone knows that. Things could happen.’
After her estranged father suffers a stroke, Mona Bright uncovers documents revealing she inherited a house from her late mother in a town called Wink, New Mexico. Not having anywhere to call home she decides to set out to see this house in this strange town that she has never heard of. Wink becomes extremely hard to find, not being on any maps as Wink was a town built around an old research station that her mother apparently worked at which was shut down in the 1970s. Once Mona finally does discover the town it appears to be a picture-perfect little town, however as time passes she realizes that there is something about the Stepford Wives type of perfection that is extremely unsettling as well as the information she uncovers about her mother, Laura Alvarez. The memories Mona has of her mother are of an extremely troubled woman that one day took a shotgun into the bathroom with her and the discovery that her mother was actually a quantum psychist at the lab in the 70s is baffling to her. Mona begins an investigation to uncover the mystery of her mother and her presence in the mysterious town of Wink.
‘Some places in Wink are more than one place. Some places take you places you never expected. Rooms within rooms, doors within doors, worlds hidden within a thimble or a teacup.
You just have to know where to look.’
While the initial mystery that drives Mona is the mystery of her mother, she slowly begins to be consumed with the complete enigma of the town and its inhabitants instead. The story is told primarily from the point of view of Mona, but we are also given snippets through the eyes of some of the townspeople where we can see firsthand just how incredibly strange it is to live in this picturesque little town. American Elsewhere contains extremely vivid characterization; it doesn’t matter how much time is spent focusing on the individual each one is unforgettable whether because of the imagery alone or the shockingly horrific stories that correlate with these people.
The build-up to the final resolution is exhilarating despite the daunting amount of pages you’re up against as a reader. While you may be able to pick up on some obvious hints as to what is truly going on in Wink, Bennett still manages to throw in some shocking twists that will definitely surprise you. Make no mistake, this is not some simple story of a strange suburban community; American Elsewhere is an amazing example of intricately structured plotlines and also the complete defiance of genre boundaries. I went into this book fairly blind (I definitely recommend this) and found the hefty dose of science fiction blended with a good amount of horror to be quite unexpected. American Elsewhere left me thoroughly impressed and will most assuredly be picking up more of Bennett’s works.