Verdict: A deeply dark novel exploring psychotic family relationships and abuse, set around a surreal voyage in beautiful Yellowstone National Park, MYSTIC YELLOWSTONE is tough, dingy and difficult, with powerful plot development.
When a scared sister runs from her schizophrenic and threatening brother, getting a job as a ranger in Yellowstone to hide away, she’s determined to prove herself. A strange twist of events and the intervention of dark forces take the journey in terrifying directions.
Joan Worthing is a determined woman; the type who responds to her new boss’ disdain for her role in a ‘male’ job with hardy determination to prove him wrong. But she’s also on the run. Well, kind of. Her new job as a ranger at Yellowstone National Park is one she’s taken as a safety measure, in search of isolation from a mentally disturbed brother who’s convinced fathering her child is essential to saving the world form future harm.
As Joan starts her job, that brother, Teddy, is escaping from a mental hospital, sirens and lights flashing behind him as he runs for normality. He stops taking his medicine, gets a job as a dishwasher at a local hotel, but he can’t think beyond his fixation with his sister and belief she holds the key to the future of humanity. Several other parties converge on beautifully depicted, hardy Yellowstone, and as they do the book takes on some severely sinister tones, incorporating an evil group of Satan worshippers, a climber who seems unafraid of death, and a runaway teenager.
To say this plot is dark is something of an understatement. It’s not for the faint hearted: there are plenty of really graphic descriptions that would likely gnaw at the nerves of the average reader, and are best steered well clear of for anyone with any kind of personal connection to sexual abuse, mental illness or family dysfunction.
It’s a clever plot at times, with the various aspects intersecting into a hazy, surreal and incredibly toxic whole as it twists and turns in the very darkest of directions. Despite a strong plot line, however, the novel, a second in a series of ‘Mystic’ books, is often let down by its quality of writing.
Misused or incorrectly spelled words, repetition of the same word multiple times in paragraphs, and writing numerous different sentences back-to-back in exactly the same unimaginative structure, all stand out as pieces of less than inspiring prose, and the grammar often falls down, too, to the point of being a serious distraction.
On the flipside, Perkinson’s area of professional expertise – which lies precisely in some of the areas he describes in his book (such as family relationships, addiction and psychology) lend a sense of realism to the issues he describes, a factor that makes them a whole lot more harrowing. If reader’s can look past the poor editing, there’s the making of a very good story here, if one that’s so dark that it might push all but the most horror-hungry of readers away. Sadly, the sheer graphic darkness of MYSTIC YELLOWSTONE is the main thing that has it standing out from the crowd.
A deeply dark novel exploring psychotic family relationships and abuse, set around a surreal voyage in beautiful Yellowstone National Park, MYSTIC YELLOWSTONE is tough, dingy and difficult, with powerful plot development.
~James Hendicott for IndieReader