A Brush with the Beast by Richard Sones
Within the first few sentences, the reader can feel Nick’s agitated mind frame leap out from the pages. With rich paragraphs filled with flowing descriptions, the reader is transported through Nick’s journey almost as if they are experiencing it first-hand. The descriptions of the locations, such as the Ancient Order’s inner sanctum, are precise and full of details that make it very easy for the reader to picture the place in their mind’s eye. The suspense of the narrative begins with Nick’s inner thoughts and interactions with the Ancient Order, and then spills out towards a host of secondary narratives of characters such as Fanak, Tamil, and Sarah. Their stories are at first random and do not seem to be at all related, but slowly their stories begin to interweave into a larger tapestry of a narrative. The story begins to dive deeply into a web of conspiracy, terrorism, and cult behavior on several sides in several different religions. As the story unfolds, Nick’s ascent to power grows more and more disturbing as civil liberties are stripped from the American people and the world as a whole dips closer and closer toward anarchy and apocalypse. The fervency and fanaticism displayed by characters Fanak and Nick are disturbing, and rightfully so. Twisting and turning, it is never quite clear just how this novella will end.
While A Brush with the Beast maintains momentum throughout most of the entire narrative, the ending still appears to be a struggle for the author. There is no conclusion, no wrapping up of the storyline. Sarah is left following a stranger at the very end, but to what purpose? Equally uncertain are the fates of numerous characters, like Nick, Fanak, and Tamil. Fanak and Tamil are given one final mission, but the reader never finds out the result. Though the author does well with description, transition, and narrative, in order to fully cultivate this novel, there must be a conclusion and purpose. Is Nick meant to succeed? Do Fanak and Tamil complete their mission? Who exactly holds the power – the governments of the world or Nick? Is there global anarchy or not? The purpose and direction of the narrative become very muddled at the end, with no clear answers or conclusions.
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