Verdict: Brian Spangler has written a mesmerizing and powerful tale about love, redemption, and the mysteries of life and death. Superman’s Cape is at once heartbreaking and inspiring.
Superman’s Cape is a spellbinding story about Sara Connely, a mother of two boys, who is rebuilding their lives after her husband was brutally murdered six months earlier. It is also the story of Jacob Hanson, a weatherman with a gift of sight, who is drawn into Sara’s life when Kyle, Sara’s eldest son gets lost in the woods just as a devastating hurricane is about to hit the town.
The story opens with the caw of a black bird setting a tone of foreboding as Sara approaches the doctor’s office for her five-year old son, Jonnie’s, appointment. As the story unfolds with haunting and heartbreaking details, we discover that Sara’s husband has been murdered in front of his children. This explains why Jonnie, who clings onto his blue blanket, also known as Superman’s Cape, is withdrawing and shutting down, Kyle, Sara’s twelve-year old son, is angry, and the family is struggling to make ends meet until they can discover the whereabouts of their finances.
Bitter and resentful of his situation, Kyle runs into the woods, where he gets lost. He begins a battle to stay alive after he is injured, struggling against the threatening forces in the woods and the oncoming storm.
Jacob Hanson is a jovial weatherman who is prone to spells of “mental disruption”, a heightened sensitivity that allowed him to instinctively “know about things”. One day during a weather report, Jacob utters the words “Superman’s Cape”. Despite a recent seizure and medical examination, Jacob is compelled to be on the team that heads to the town to investigate Kyle’s disappearance in the woods and hurricane that approaches Sara’s town. Once in Sara and Jonnie’s presence, Jacob, Sara and Jonnie become part of a sublime experience that sends Jacob rushing into the woods saying “I need to get my son”, while Sara yells after him: “You save our boy, our son – don’t you let him die!”
Author Brian Spangler has written a powerful plot and his flawless writing effortlessly transitions between life and death, past and present and from one point of view to the next. Spangler’s narrative is rich and inviting; tantalizing the reader with his sensuous descriptions, keen observations of characters’ body language and penetrating details of their psyche and physical surroundings. Spangler’s concise descriptions are understated but speak volumes, for example when Sara tells the doctor about her husband’s murder: “She would tell him because she had no place else to go and nobody to give her the time to listen.”
Spangler’s characters are real and hypnotic. Spangler deftly captures the psychological and emotional state of each of his characters, revealing their weaknesses and strengths. Spangler’s astute perceptions of a mother’s love for her innocent children and the descriptions of Kyle lost in the woods are extremely evocative and heart wrenching:
“More rain drops fell around him and some fell onto his fevered skin. Kyle’s eye
remained closed and his breathing deepened and then shallowed. And then his
breaths stretched further and further apart. He was dying.”
Brian Spangler has written a mesmerizing and powerful tale about love, redemption, and the mysteries of life and death. Superman’s Cape is at once heartbreaking and inspiring.
Reviewed by Maya Fleischmann for IndieReader.com 2012