Steven Brandsdorfer’s The Never Fable begins, in a sense, with the ending.
The prologue details the mysterious disappearance of Daniel Never from a hospital, to which he was brought after his second major head injury, a year after the first. We are then led into the story of the previous year, with Daniel awakening in another hospital the first time, his head broken, with no knowledge of how he got there or why he was injured.
Compelled by a disembodied voice and aided by a stranger, Daniel leaves the hospital without treatment, drifts home to his family in Pennsylvania, and wanders dysfunctionally through a foggy half-life plagued with dreams of his multiple-great-grandfather’s adventures on a secret mission in the Seminole Wars. Then, the commander of that mission, an unnamed Quiet Man, shows up at his grandparents’ home and leads him into a new vagrant life on the streets of Philadelphia, a life which intertwines more and more with his visions of the past, until the story comes full circle as Daniel realizes his life’s purpose in a final battle between the forces of civilization and wilderness, angels and demons.
Brandsdorfer is very, very good at scene-setting and description; at times, too much so (as in his rather unsettling descriptions of Daniel’s head injuries – not for the squeamish). The plot is entertaining, action-filled, and thought-provoking, and while it shifts rapidly between present and past, the shifts are well-delineated and not confusing. The characters, particularly Daniel, are well-developed and three-dimensional, worth a reader’s interest and sympathy. And though this reviewer freely admits to being an inveterate nitpicker when it comes to historical detail, I found only a very few minor details to which I objected, none of which seriously disturbs the plot (I personally refuse to believe, for example, that Abigail Adams ever had an affair with anyone who wasn’t her husband).
The story could be more polished with some minor editing and attention to layout; while the problems do not detract too much from enjoyment of the story, there are occasional typos, misspellings, and misuse of punctuation, and the pages are not properly aligned. Occasionally, the use of dialect and accents can seem a bit forced, as well. All in all, however, The Never Fable is quite an entertaining read, and well worth your time.
Reviewed by Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader
IR received this book free from the author who paid for the review. The remuneration in no way affected IR’s feedback on the work.
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