Monday, March 29, 2010

Book 32 of 2010: Dweller by Jeff Strand

Jeff Strand's latest mass market release, Dweller, follows the life of a boy named Toby as he matures and ages. At the start, Toby is an eight year old boy who likes to explore the woods. One day he walks a bit deeper into the woods than his parents allow him, stumbles into a "monster", and runs! Seven years later, at age fifteen, Toby is dealing with the trauma of being tormented by the bullies at school and with being an outcast, and he still spends much of his time in the woods when not at school. One day he happens upon a cave and discovers the "monster" that he thought was created by his childhood imagination once again. Instead of running this time, Toby tries talking to him. The "monster" doesn't attack and Toby starts to visit him regularly, bringing him food, telling him stories, naming him Owen, and ultimately becoming best friends with him. Of course, can being friends with a creature such as Owen truly end well?

Dweller is noted as being Jeff Strand's second "serious" novel. However, I was pleasantly surprised that this release featured much more of Strand's humor than his previous release, Pressure, did. As stated above, the book is written over the course of numerous years, but is written in a format where certain years are focused upon. The other years are covered by chapters titled "glimpses" which feature snapshots from the years in between. This is a unique technique that I hadn't seen before, as most books just jump forward ten or twenty years, leaving the reader guessing at what occurred in the middle. Strand allows us to experience Toby's life as it progresses with these special chapters, and we watch Toby graduate, move out from home, get married, and so on. At the same time, we watch the continued friendship between Toby and Owen progress. So far this isn't sounding too much of a horror novel, now is it? Think again! There is a very dark storyline mixed within that will leave readers shocked. I would say more, but doing so may spoil the surprise. Let's just say that Owen doesn't JUST like ice cream for a treat! For readers who have yet to enjoy the works of Jeff Strand, Dweller is a great first book to read as it explores many elements of Strand's writing style. Many of his books are extremely humorous. In contrast, Pressure is dark and serious. Dweller, on the other hand, mixes these styles up and Strand churns out a story that is unforgettable. Highly recommended!

Contains: Adult Language, Adult Situations, Mild Violence, Mild Gore

Review also posted at

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