J-F. Dubeau has firmly established himself as a skilled practitioner of the long form. To hold multiple narrative threads together at length without losing the reader or sacrificing rhythm is no small feat, as any writer can tell you. The artfulness with which he slips the reader into this rich tale of darkness and magic cannot be overstated.
An entire community is developed here, steeped in ritual and tradition, and populated by diverse, complex characters we come to identify with and care for. In this sense I was reminded of the style of Peter Straub—Ghost Story in particular.
At the heart of the story, amid many layers of mystery and intrigue, we find our central protagonist—the young Venus McKenzie. Intelligent and strong, she proves herself a worthy adversary to the dark force inhabiting Saint-Ferdinand, leading her small band of friends into dangerous territory. I’m not sure if Mr. Dubeau is a family man or grew up with sisters, but he has certainly captured the mind of a teenage girl here, endearing the young heroine to the reader.
The true horror of the story lies in the depiction of this dread “God”. Dubeau’s use of horrific metonymy is on full display, generating a shadow being cloaked in the bones and viscera of its victims. Never clearly defined, the “God” tugs at our most primal fear—that of the unknown.
A God In The Shed is one scary offering, and I for one hope to hear more from J-F. Dubeau in the future.
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Review Written by W.J. Renehan.