Length: 248 Pages
Publisher: Underland Press
Release date: April 17, 2018
Synopsis: A car lies at the bottom of an icy ravine. Slumped over the steering wheel, dead, is the most critically acclaimed horror writer of his time. Was it an accident? His son Milo doesn’t care. For the first time in his life, he’s free. No more nightmarish readings, spooky animal rites, or moonlit visions of his father in the woods with a notebook and vampire make-up.
Or so he thinks.
Milo settles into a quiet routine―constructing model Greek warships and at last building a relationship with his sister Klara, who’s home after a failed marriage and brief career as an English teacher. Then Klara hires a gardener to breathe new life into their overgrown estate. There’s something odd about him―something eerily reminiscent of their father’s most violent villain. Or is Milo imagining things? He’s not sure. That all changes the day the gardener discovers something startling in the woods. Suddenly Milo is fighting for his life, forced to confront the power of fictional identity as he uncovers the shocking truth about his own dysfunctional family―and the supposed accident that claimed his parents’ lives..
Review copy provided in exchange for an honest review
The Garden of Blue Roses was confusing right off the bat. I had a tough time figuring out if the story was happening now, or in the past, or if it was all in the mind of Milo. Was it one of his stories playing out on the pages of this book? I honestly don’t know and that made this review harder to write. The positives were, the author kept me guessing about what was really going on and I had to be on my toes to keep up. Also, the writing is very well done and you get a real feel for the characters and their feelings toward one another.
The negatives were the story was a slow burn, which made reading the book feel longer. Also, I had difficulty connecting with the characters. I couldn’t feel much empathy for the situation of losing a parent. Of course, in real life this would be a crushing situation. Here it felt like I was waiting for him to pop out from behind a door and say ‘surprise!’. See, this was a difficult review to write. I’ve said a lot without feeling like I said much. If you enjoy strange, weird, and a story that is a little of kilter, then dive in and enjoy the ride. If a story that is a little more straight forward is your thing then I say this may not be for you.
Michael Barsa, biography
Michael Barsa grew up in a German-speaking household in New Jersey and spoke no English until he went to school. So began an epic struggle to master the American “R” and a lifelong fascination with language. He’s lived on three continents and spent many summers in southern Germany and southern Vermont.
He’s worked as an award-winning grant writer, an English teacher, and an environmental lawyer. He now teaches environmental and natural resources law. His scholarly articles have appeared in several major law reviews, and his writing on environmental policy has appeared in The Chicago Tribune and The Chicago Sun-Times. His short fiction has appeared in Sequoia.
The Garden of Blue Roses is his first novel.