I’ve recently been doing a little more reading, and these days I’m particularly interested in the unexplored work of the world: the self-published authors. On occasion, I’ll be posting reviews of books I read that I’ve taken a liking to and hopefully you will all find some great stories to add to your collection! I won’t be reviewing anything on the New York Times Bestseller List, so get that out of your head. I want to discover the amazing authors that are, as yet, masked in obscurity. The hidden gems. The folks with potential that the commercialized book world can’t see.
Oh, and they’ll probably be shorter books too because I don’t have much time for reading these days.
Sound good? Sweet.
The first one I’d like to review is the first in a series called “The Soul Collector”. Book 1 is titled: “Borrowed Souls”.
I’ll say from the get-go that I really enjoy books that flip between the present and the past. Or the past into the further-past. Maybe it’s because that’s how I like to write, but it just adds an extra dynamic, or flavor to the story. Rather than reading one point of view at one point in time, I get to experience the opinion of the narrator at two different points in their life. Some say this is poor writing; I say fuck them, it’s awesome.
“Borrowed Souls” follows this format as executes with charisma and ease. One of the struggles of the frequent switches in time is that it can be difficult to indicate to the reader exactly when you are making the switch. There has to be some kind of clear indicator that you’re moving forward or backward in time and the age-old “Ten Years Earlier” is a bit dry anymore. In a story I’m near completing, “Muddy Heels”, I accomplish this by speaking in present tense vs. past tense and putting all present tense portions in italics. “Borrowed Souls” uses a very specific and very intriguing trigger: a gold coin.
The main character, Mr. Duffy, is approached by a mysterious man after waking up on a bus in a strange neighborhood with no recollection of the previous day’s events. After some discussion, this strange man who we come to discover is named Wilson hands Mr. Duffy a gold coin which he is instructed to rotate between his fingers. As he complies, he is immediately transported back in time to that morning – and not in memory form. He actually feels as though he is reliving the day!
The events that occur leading up to his confrontation with Wilson make for a very interesting storyline, leading to a very gripping ending that opens up the reader very readily for the next book in the series. What impressed me most, though, was how some of these literary transitions were managed. Particularly for shorter stories – and this book is a delightfully quick read – it can be difficult to properly establish relationships and circumstances in a short amount of time. In this case, the main character encountering Wilson and deciding to trust him enough to discuss the prior day could be a difficult transition to master. Do you build in a natural inclination toward Wilson? Do you make Wilson addictively appealing? Does Wilson have a manipulative nature that draws the main character in?
Author Paul Kohler doesn’t use any of these specific tactics which makes the writing all the more impressive. Instead, he builds a very natural dialogue between the two and presents Wilson as a person with a naturally empathic and trusting nature. Because Mr. Duffy is described as being out of sorts, confused, and scared early on in the book, it’s easy to believe that he would latch on to a person like this under such anxious and uncertain circumstances.
I would highly recommend picking this book up on Kindle or paperback and setting aside and hour or so to read it. No one has time for 600-page novels anymore and finding a writer who can grip and sustain a reader in a much shorter story is a difficult task these days!
Here’s the link to the book on Amazon. Please do Paul a favor and leave a rating as well!