The Fiddler in the Night
Sixteen-year-old Jonathan McLean’s father is slowly dying, and their sheep are sick with the pox. Jonathan is ordered by his parents to kill and burn the sheep while his mother takes care of his father. Not far from the McLean’s farm live an elderly couple who are murdered by a cold-blooded killer named Leonard. Thus begins Christian Fennell’s debut novel, The Fiddler in the Night, a story of one young man’s journey in an unforgiving rural landscape to find his kidnapped mother. That is the novel at its surface, but within its depths, it is about the showdown between good and evil, and the battle with darkness and despair: “in the night, evil begets evil…it knows no alliance, not even to its own self…”
Jonathan’s house is broken into on the same night as his father’s wake. His mother is missing, and their ’62 Ford truck seems to also have been taken. Jonathan sets out on his horse, Destiny, unwittingly following the violent trail left by Leonard, a dangerous man with a taste for blood. In a world as real as ours yet as imaginary as Alice’s Wonderland, Jonathan meets a unique ensemble of characters as he follows Leonard. These characters are the core of the novel, some desperate and cunning, a few of them innocent. A ten-year-old girl named Rachel mourns the loss of her mother who recently committed suicide. There is Wakefield and his truck full of circus freaks, and the fiddler in the night named Charlie. An old man at a diner mistakes Jonathan for a hunter, advising “If it was me, I’d treat this like I was huntin’ wild cats.” There are Leonard’s victims, most of them women: a snake hunter with plans to leave for France; a young woman dragging around part of a chain, escaping abuse; and even a nun. Jonathan’s journey is part mystery and part search for self. It is worth the read not only to discover his mother’s fate but also to find out who is left standing by the end.
Fennell’s haunting and poetic prose take readers through the Godforsaken terrain of rural America with a reluctant hero in Jonathan—reluctant hunter—who is in turn hunted by Leonard, the man leaving behind a path of destruction. Fennell’s novel challenges readers with its non-traditional structure and form and its head-hopping perspectives and takes them on a wild ride to its stunning and heartbreaking conclusion.
|Page Count||230 pages|
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|Category||Mystery, Crime, Thriller|