Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Review: Second Hand Curses

  by Drew Hayes

Second Hand Curses
Drew Hayes is literary Xanax. Now, before you get offended on his behalf, let me explain. I deal with a lot of stress in my life right now. My father died in January after a long, protracted fight with Alzheimer's. My mom and I nursed him at home for his final months after a fall last September and it was hideous. During that time I was still working full time at a job with a lot of responsibility and a nearly 1-hour commute each way and I was taking college classes online and maintaining a 4.0 GPA. My life is slowly rebounding after my dad's death, but it's not like it's all sunshine and roses. I struggle with anxiety and depression and just can't take any more stress.

So, when I read a book with lots of adventure and danger it can be more than I can take right now. If the author is unskilled or unknown, it stresses me out, worrying that the book won't turn out right. This is partly why I recently reread all 25 Tarzan books, because I knew how they would turn out and so I could get through them without worrying about the characters too much.

When I read Drew Hayes, I know he is going to get us through without fail. I'm not saying bad things won't happen, but he's such a skilled and talented author that I know I can trust him to know what he's doing and stick the landing. It's the difference between riding in a car with an experienced driver instead of in a car with a teenager just learning how to drive. The road may be harrowing and traffic may be bad, but you trust the driver so you can relax. With a less skilled author, the same scenarios make me too tense to enjoy them. As I've said in other reviews, I don't think it's possible for Drew Hayes to write a bad book. (Drew, don't try it, because you're talented enough to manage and then where would we be?)

This one is about a world of fairy tales come to life. You meet many classic characters including Pinocchio and the Shoemaker and the Elves, but in this book things are grittier and more real than in any fairy tale. One thing Hayes does so well is to put together a lovable ensemble from the most unlikely characters, and this one is no different. I liked Frank, Jack, and Marie both as a group and individually. Frank is so earnest and good, Jack is a true scoundrel, and Marie is a lot tougher than she looks. Another area Hayes excels is in creating women characters who are people first, women after. There is no pandering and no cliche. He gets it. Women aren't another species, they're just people. Why is that so hard for other authors to understand?

I don't know if he has time to write a sequel to this book with all of the other series he's juggling, but with his work ethic and productivity, I wouldn't doubt it. If he does get the sequel out in the world, I'll be there to read it.

Five stars to cure what ails ya.

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