Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Review: The Devil and Preston Black

The Devil and Preston Black
The Devil and Preston Black by Jason Jack Miller

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Dark Paranormal Fantasy
Reading Level: Adult (explicit sexual scenes
Recommended for: People who are obsessed with rock and roll, or music in general, those who are interested in stories about deals with the devil, be they real or metaphorical
Trigger Warnings: infidelity, alcohol abuse

My Thoughts: I picked this up free over two years ago during a promotion on Smashwords. I have wanted to review it to thank the author for the free read, but other things kept distracting me (ooh, shiny new book! Etc.). That's unfortunate, because this ended up being a really good book. I was jazzed when I finished.

There are parts that drag. I'm not sure everyone will stick with it to the end. But the ending is really worth it. A lot of my frustration came from two different sources. One was Preston's constant weakness, his continual giving in to Dani and his own self-destruction. The other was the way everyone seemed to come down on Preston about everything, whether it was his fault or not, which fed into his weakness because he would never defend himself. It was very aggravating.

I was also annoyed in many ways with Pauly. I have noticed it is common among alcoholics, or those attending AA, to assume that everyone who drinks is also an alcoholic, whether or not that is true, and to become overly sensitive to others' uses of alcohol. While it is true that Preston tended to overdo things at time, he was just acting his age, I think, not necessarily an alcoholic, so Pauly's calling him such, and urging him to go to AA, pressed some of my buttons.

Having experienced a Saturn Return for myself, and therefore learned extensively about them, I can say that Mick's wife was somewhat off. The Saturn Return occurs approximately every twenty-eight years, not twenty-seven. But the general idea behind it is correct. I believe what Preston is undergoing through a lot of this book is also a form of Saturn Return. As someone says in the book, he is learning to be a grown-up.

In some ways, this book reminded me of the novella I just finished editing, Thin Ice, the third in the Osh Kosh trilogy by Anthea Carson. Both books deal with a person spiraling down into depression, seemingly losing all ability to see anything positive around them, and losing their way. That's pretty much where the similarities end, however. Preston seems to at least be trying. I can't really go into how it ended, so as to avoid spoilers, but this is dark paranormal fantasy, not horror, so take that how you will. I really ended up liking this book a lot, and I think a lot of other people will. If you've been considering this book, stop considering and just read it. It's pretty good.

Disclosure: I found this book for free on Smashwords. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis: You'd think finding a song named after you on an old record would be kind of cool. But that's not how it goes down for Preston Black. 

What starts out as a search for his old man turns into a quest for an original version of "The Sad Ballad of Preston Black". Turns out the song is about his deal with the devil, a deal Preston doesn't really remember making. 

When the devil decides it's time to cash in things get really interesting. People he loves get hurt, and Preston starts to wonder if a long fall into an icy river is his only way out. 

Lucky for Preston, he has help. A music ethnographer with connections in some of Appalachia's darkest hollows convinces him that his salvation can be found in the music. Preston can buy that. It's the hexes, curses and spells he has a hard time with. 

And it's the ghost of John Lennon who convinces Preston to do something about it.

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