4 out of 5 stars
I recently had the pleasure of reading Travis Gulbrandson’s first novel, The Believers. Here is the summary of the plot.
Edith Parker has been a widow for ten years, but she tries to keep her husband’s memory alive by carrying a picture of him from room to room. Then, on the anniversary of his death, she is visited by a young man who claims to have a message from him. On the promise of further communications with the deceased, Mrs. Parker invites the mysterious stranger to live with her. While this visitation first seems like the answer to her prayers, she soon finds her actions may have started a chain of events that yield tragic consequences for everyone she cares about.
Dark, at times suspenseful, infused with black humor, The Believers examines a number of issues relating to the nature of faith, but it never tells the reader what to think.
This is yet another example of great writing from an indie author. Gulbrandson weaves a story of intrigue as we follow the interactions of a widow and the strange young man who has come to deliver a message to her from beyond the grave.
As the story progresses, Gulbrandson drops hints about the young man’s true intentions along the way until near the end when everything becomes horribly clear. The name of the book seems to suggest an underlying message about belief and the events that the main characters set into motion through their willingness to believe certain things, whether that be in an afterlife or simply trusting and believing the people around them.
Gulbrandson’s writing drew me in immediately making me feel a bit ill at ease. Here’s an excerpt from the very first chapter of the book.
The main street did not consist of much. There was a general store, a diner and a bank, two bars and a post office. A gas station stood near the road that led into town. Three churches were scattered in the area, two of them Lutheran, one Catholic. There was a small school and a small fire station. There was no police station, although a state trooper made a quick pass-through each Tuesday and Thursday. If any other policemen were needed, it would have taken them more than an hour to arrive.
The young man’s lips curved into a tight smile when he looked upon the scene for the first time. He set down his battered brown case of cracking imitation leather and clenched his cigarette in his teeth as he took his jacket, slung now over his shoulder, in both hands and shook it free of dust. Breathing smoke, he cinched up his tie and fixed the angle of his hat. He pulled on his jacket and took the lapels in his hands, waving them back and forth, cooling himself with the brisk morning air before he fastened the buttons. He checked his fingernails and grasped the cigarette between his thumb and forefinger and inhaled a final time. Then, wetting his lips, he dropped it and ground it into the dirt with the heel of his shoe until the filter came apart. (The Believers by Travis Gulbrandson)
The Believers has a dark theme. Even though the book takes a violent turn and some of the scenes are quite intense, I never feel that the author goes overboard with his descriptions. The characters are well-written and believable and the dialogue is quite realistic.
I never felt like the plot was forced or that the people in the book were acting out of character.
I would definitely recommend this brilliant debut novel. It looks like it is only available in digital format at the moment on Amazon. Hopefully the author will make it available on other platforms soon. You can buy it at the link below.
It seems like I’m reading a lot of dark books these days. I just started a new book that is similarly dark in theme yesterday.