Ella Pearson gravitates to the sun and to Clarence, her bonsai plant, to find peace amid her stressful life: one of them being her executive PR job and the other, her relationship with Andrew and his daughter Clara. Ella’s plan to cut things off with Andrew is thwarted when she notices an intruder— a hairy creature about the size of a child—in Clara’s room. Oddly, Andrew, Clara, and later the police and Social Services, appear unruffled by the hirsute “caveman.” Andrew’s acceptance of the hideous interloper is the last straw. Without preamble, Ella blurts out to Andrew that “it’s over” and stomps out the door. Her momentary sense of freedom is severely halted when she’s slapped with a legal order, stating the Caveman is her responsibility.
Rau’s newest book is a bizarre read into an alternate universe. Evasive character development surrounds Ella, his protagonist, and the remaining cast that function purely as foils to build up Ella’s role. A wonderfully blended mix of Orwell, Kafka, and originality, Rau’s unique writing style has leanings toward The Twilight Zone. The latter fits perfectly with his near-lifelike realm of the City and a pastoral section known as East Gish. Rau has designed his third person tale into five parts that continuously unfold into unanticipated scenes—ones that are not only twisted but also frustrating at points since Ella appears to never advance in the direction of her choosing. In the midst of Ella’s stymied life, Rau weaves in themes of individualism, sexism, religion, and romantic longings.
Readers will quickly see the Orwellian overtones between the terse dialogue scenes and the influential First Assembly Temple headed by the charismatic leader, Carl Thompson. Rau presents a story that immediately gets the attention of his audience on various levels. At the top level are Rau’s true-to-life characters, settings, and themes. But as he incorporates oddities—most prominently, the caveman—and slowly yet craftily skews scenes, Rau perks readers curiosity in finding out what will become of Ella, who is desperately attempting to move on with her life. There is more to Ella than imagined, though, which begins to make sense as the plot thickens.
Realistic and twisted yet shrouded in secrecy, CAVEMAN AT THE END OF THE WORLD provides lit fiction enthusiasts with a one-of-a-kind story that is captivating to the very end.
~Anita Lock for IndieReader