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Mar 23, 2012

Review: Edge of Dark Water by Joe R. Lansdale

Edge of Dark Water by Joe R. Lansdale
Mulholland Books, March 25, 2012
304 pages Hardcover
Review copy provided by the publisher, thank you!
Burton Book Review Rating: Creepiest 4.5 Stars EVER

Mark Twain meets classic Stephen King--a bold new direction for widely acclaimed Edgar Award winner Joe R. Lansdale.

May Lynn was once a pretty girl who dreamed of becoming a Hollywood star. Now she's dead, her body dredged up from the Sabine River.

Sue Ellen, May Lynn's strong-willed teenage friend, sets out to dig up May Lynn's body, burn it to ash, and take those ashes to Hollywood to spread around. If May Lynn can't become a star, then at least her ashes will end up in the land of her dreams.

Along with her friends Terry and Jinx and her alcoholic mother, Sue Ellen steals a raft and heads downriver to carry May Lynn's remains to Hollywood.

Only problem is, Sue Ellen has some stolen money that her enemies will do anything to get back. And what looks like a prime opportunity to escape from a worthless life will instead lead to disastrous consequences. In the end, Sue Ellen will learn a harsh lesson on just how hard growing up can really be.

Oh my creepiness. This is a crazy fun story in a sick kind of way - and if you go for that sort of thing, this is absolutely awesome. It's a Stephen King macabre style of a tale that doesn't let you sleep once you get past the initial set up. I admit, since this is not my normal sort of thing the last few years, I was a bit taken aback for the first fifty pages or so. What we've got here are themes of abuse and poverty set in East Texas somewhere circa the Depression and then a whole lot of Scary Sh*t.

A thriller being what it is, I can't really give out too much of the story because you'll be thrilled for yourself once you get your trembling hands on this one. But I will tell you it is the story of some teenagers who set out on the murky Sabine River escaping their cruddy lives (so they think) to head out to California to bury their murdered friend May Lynn. The narrator's speech of Sue Ellen was a bit rough to get used to, but in those days she didn't get much of an education. I was bothered by the tone of the book simply because of the abusive/violent culture that I had to get my head wrapped around. Once I did that, I was totally scared speechless and had to keep reading to see which evil would find them first: the evil enigma of the legendary Skunk the murderous human tracker or Sue Ellen's crazy family folk with the crooked lawman.

Along for the journey with Sue Ellen are friends Terry and Jinx (and May Lynn's ashes and a bunch of money). Terry, "a sissy boy", holds them all together. And Jinx was the "colored girl" who sure had some colorful thoughts that she had no reason to hold back. I even found myself laughing out loud at Jinx. Add in the crazy folk chasing them, and we've got ourselves a page turner. I have a new found respect for lard cans. Slipped in throughout are revelations of faith, death and family bonds. Somehow, I loved it. Stomach twisting kind of love, that is.