Adam entertains a disheveled stranger named Glenn in his home. In return, Glenn entertains Adam with fantastic tales about an investigation into a cult that goes bad, a troop of knights seeking a cure for a plague, a boy bargaining for an angel’s feather and a man being dragged through a singular afterlife. At first, the stories seem to be about separating Adam from his religious faith. But as the night goes on, Adam is left questioning his sanity as much as his spirituality.
Readers going into A NARRATIVE IN FLUX expecting a straight horror story are probably going to be disappointed, as author Cori H. Spenzich seems to be trying for something more surreal, recalling books by Clive Barker and Mark Z. Danielewski. It begins with the structure. A NARRATIVE IN FLUX resembles a collection of short stories more than a novel, with the grounding narrative of Adam and Glenn conversing interrupted up by Glenn’s stories, or “parables” as the book calls them. It’s further broken up by Romanian illustrator Nicolae Negura’s black-and-white line drawings, which complement the stark narrative nicely. Altogether, this gives the novel a brisk pace, welcoming readers into a story that might otherwise be bloated. No idea or scenario Spenzich wants to test out overstays its welcome, and he has a few ideas to test.
The mental meat of the novel is in the parables. While they clearly follow the novel’s overarching theme of spiritual questioning, they make a point of never directly answering any of their own questions, leaving them for both Adam and readers to puzzle out. Meanwhile, the emotional heart is in the conversation between Adam and Glenn. Set beside a crackling fire, it alternates between warmth and chill, familiarity and doubt. As Adam ultimately learns less about his visitor and remembers more about himself, readers are given the opportunity to point some of his questions toward themselves. The primary purpose of A NARRATIVE IN FLUX seems to be sparking inquiry via sparse yet poetically constructed stories–delicate and intricate like toy music boxes–rather than pushing a particular agenda, and that alone makes it worthwhile reading.
Esoteric without being inaccessible, A NARRATIVE IN FLUX provides readers with thoughtful thrills in a smoothly written and intriguingly surreal book.
~Colin Newton for IndieReader