Review copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review
Over the past couple of years I have read many books by Mark Matthews and have really enjoyed them. Mark contacted me and asked if I was interested in reading the ARC copy of ALL SMOKE RISES. I was excited and this book wasn’t even on my radar and of course I said yes. I knew after reading MILK-BLOOD it would be a great read and I was itching for a return Brentwood Street. I knew there was more of Lilly’s story and I would able to see what harsh reality she was living.
Mark Matthew’s sequel to MILK-BLOOD starts off with a very tense scene and excellent prologue to get your heart racing. A strange man shows up at the Hospital talking what is presumed to be nonsense. Not until he shows up at one of the doctor’s homes later that night does it become clear there was something important he wanted to say. He gives the doctor a manuscript and the dead body of a girl named Lilly, then commits suicide. Before he kills himself he tells the doctor to read the pages, “read them you must” he says, and so begins ALL SMOKE RISES.
I was drawn in to the story right from the beginning and I started to remember all the details of Lilly and her life on Brentwood, the drugs and the horrible living conditions. It all came back and now I had to know what happened and who this man was who had her burned body. Mark Matthews writes with knowledge and expertise giving the story a life of its own. His grasp of drugs and addiction can be felt throughout the story and in his characters. Lilly has been living in Crystal’s old home, a burned up home where her child died. Crystal has been out of jail for five years now and watches her old home from across the street and dreams her son Oscar will walk out and not the ghost she sees each time. But it’s not Oscar Crystal finds in her old home it’s Lilly and she is barely alive. She is being filled with milk blood on a daily basis to keep the Heroin withdrawals away. In her mind Crystal can save Lilly even though she couldn’t save Oscar. But the dark street of Brentwood can’t be escaped that easily and this dark street in Detroit has a way of claiming its victims.
Mark tells us in vivid detail the harsh reality of this street, this unforgiving part of the city, where living isn’t living its surviving. Burned out houses, streets with little to no lighting, dangers on every corner. These are the places you don’t want to stop while passing through on your way to the good parts of city. Streets better left alone with people who wouldn’t think twice about stealing your car with you in it. I was consumed by ALL SMOKE RISES and read it in one sitting. I loved all the drug crazed scenes and the conversation with the voices in Jervis head. Conversations he has with his father about his daughter Lilly sound like rambling from a nightmare. This is what makes ALL SMOKE RISES a great read. Mark Matthews drops us off at 608 Brentwood and shows us the world of heroin addiction and I loved this book from start to finish.
Length: 151 Pages
Publisher: Wicked Run Press
Release date: February 8th, 2016
Ten year old Lilly is the victim of a terrible house fire and a wretched family. Her father is an addict with mental illness, her mother was murdered and then buried across the street, and her uncle got her addicted to heroin.
Lilly’s tragic story has been told in the book ALL SMOKE RISES, and it may be true, for the author has broken into your house, and placed Lilly’s body on your kitchen counter. He demands you read the manuscript, before cutting his own wrists and bleeding out on your floor.
Now you have decisions to make, for Lilly’s body may not be dead, and her family is coming for her.
Mark Matthews, biography
Mark Matthews has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Michigan, and is a licensed professional counselor who has worked in mental health and substance abuse treatment for over 20 years. His novel MILK-BLOOD, along with its companion short story, The Damage Done, have been optioned for a full length feature film. ALL SMOKE RISES: MILK-BLOOD REDUX is the sequel and will be available for pre-order in December of 2015. He is the author of On the Lips of Children, from Books of the Dead Press, which was nominated as a semi-finalist for the 2014 Best Kindle Book Awards. Matthews has run 13 marathons, and has two running based books, The Jade Rabbit and Chasing the Dragon, also available on amazon. He lives near Detroit with his wife and two daughters. All of his books are based on true settings. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org using hand drawn and painted elements combined through digital paint and compositing.