Be aware that there will be spoilers as I read through this book.
I started The Stranger Times a couple of days ago. My right-before-bed reading. I find that I’m reading it like a reader, and then as I think about it, I’m thinking as a writer. (BTW, I wrote righter first and feel compelled to reveal that as it’s so horrifying). Anyhow, I jumped in and so far, am really enjoying it. Not that I’ve read far, really.
We start with a prologue. It involves two nameless men and a supernatural event, warning us that there will be supernatural elements in the novel. The prologue raises a lot of questions that clearly will not be answered right away, but definitely make me want to know what’s going on.
Next we shift gears and meet Hannah. I kind of loved that she went to interview at a furniture store and that her resume was so very weak. There’s a dry wit to the writing that I enjoy. I laughed out lout when the homeless guy walks up to the trash can she vomited into, looks inside, and says, “there’s some bloody monsters around here.” There’s a double meaning to that I expect where there really are monsters out there, something I think of when the two goons confront the group after the bar and Reggie pulls knives from nowhere and threatens them.
Speaking of Reggie, the introduction to him and Ox and Grace were priceless. Ox warns her away so she doesn’t get splattered and Reggie asks her to move because she’s interfering with his suicide. A regularly schedule Monday event. Hannah doesn’t quite know what to make of them, but ends up going inside after meeting Simon, where she meets Stella and Grace and then the Big Boss himself, Mister Banecroft whose office is a foul, stinking mess, who smokes, drinks, swears, and oh yes, has an actual blunderbuss. Of course he manages to shoot himself with said blunderbuss, but yanno, Chekhov did say if there was a gun in the scene, it needs to be shot at some point.
What we quickly want to know is a) who is Tina, b) why did she leave, c) what exactly does the job entail (we get that at the bar), and why does it specifically say Simon need not apply?
I had a good time with these first chapters. I think the dialog was quick and fun, and I loved the interview with Banecroft asking about the nanny or the personal trainer. Everything was so not polite or correct and it was blunt and without any sort of embarrassment. Ox and Reggie are hilarious together, and Stella is one sharp cookie. The thing is, nobody feels stereotypical and while certainly there have been books and movies where the weird and strange stories in the supermarket tabloids turn out to be true, there’s a freshness to this one. The focus seems to be less on the stories being true, than on this motley group of people.
The understated dry humor seriously appeals. Like when Hannah says, “You were explaining how you’ve been emasculated by your own office manager.” Banecroft doesn’t argue. And then she points out the office is on fire.
And then we get introduced to Moretti. He is a bad guy, but also seems like a kind of a good guy. If that makes sense. I mean, how can you not like a guy who hypnotizes the slickly slimy real estate guy so that he will punch himself in the nuts every time he says “space.” In private, no less. Which kills me. Wonder how long it takes Jace to stop saying space.
When Hannah is standing there while Banecroft is getting treated by the paramedics, her inner dialog is hilarious. Again, that understated humor. And despite the bloodshed and appalling boss, she got the job. Because nobody else wants it, for sure, but still, she got it. Gotta find the silver lining, right?
My takeaway from these first five chapters is that 1) I really like this oddball little group and am looking forward to the shenanigans, and 2) whatever terrible thing that will happen will be unexpected and I shall no doubt find the whole thing funny. I love how quirky each character is and how individual.
Do you think Moretti is a bad guy? What do you think he’s up to? I kind of like him, I have to say.
Will Banecroft give everyone in the hospital a new and unusual disease since he’s so filthy and foul and the only way to sanitize him would be to soak him in bleach and then toss him into an autoclave?
Will Hannah be the new Tina and what will she have to do to be Tina? And where did Tina go?
Is anybody in this little scooby crew of supernatural origins? A secret werewolf? A vampire? A troll?
What were the two in the prologue were up to?
What other supernatural hijinks will ensue?