Title: The End of the Sentence
Author: Maria Dahvana Headley
Genre: Fantasy, Horror, Fiction, Novella, Urban Fantasy, Short Story, Fiction, Mystery
Publisher: Subterranean Press
Published: September 1, 2014
Page Amount: 176 pages
Blurb From Goodreads: It begins with a letter from a prisoner…
As he attempts to rebuild his life in rural Oregon after a tragic accident, Malcolm Mays finds himself corresponding with Dusha Chuchonnyhoof, a mysterious entity who claims to be the owner of Malcolm’s house, jailed unjustly for 117 years. The prisoner demands that Malcolm perform a gory, bewildering task for him. As the clock ticks toward Dusha’s release, Malcolm must attempt to find out whether he’s assisting a murderer or an innocent. The End of the Sentence combines Kalapuya, Welsh, Scottish and Norse mythology, with a dark imagined history of the hidden corners of the American West.
Why Read: To be entirely honest, I cannot remember where I got the idea to read this book. It’s a fair guess to say that I found it on Book Riot in the horror posts during Halloween, I think? It was hanging out in my Goodreads TBR, and in a vain attempt to clear that list – I said I would read it.
Review: Probably the first short story I’ve read (other than fanfiction) in the recent year or so, I actually really enjoyed The End of the Sentence. Even though there are still some points that I’m scratching my head about it, the writing style was particularly lovely, and the different subplots are really intriguing.
Character-wise? We’ve got a demon of some sorts named Dusha Chuchonnyhoof – who is somehow in prison for multiple life sentences, whose sentence is almost up (get it?) and he needs the protagonist’s help with something. What makes this novella so good is that I didn’t expect the demon to have a back story, or any of the characters to (really). Without the historical tidbits of Chuchonnyhoof’s past (and Malcolm’s), I think a lot of the novella would have fallen flat.
The pace of the plot is especially fantastic. Perhaps it is always like this with novellas (in which case I need to read more), but I really liked how the pace kept increasing with every letter from Dusha, as he demands more and more despite Malcolm’s reluctance. On another note entirely, the ghostly aspect of the story adds tremendously to the novella. I love the way that hauntings are described, and I now believe that this MUST be how ghosts operate on a daily basis.
The only reason it does not receive the full 5 stars is that something doesn’t sit right about it. I keep having a feeling about the book of uncertainty. That might be a sign that the book is staying with me (in which case – 5 stars), but whenever I try to turn my head around the plot – I just frown and shake my head.
I would suggest reading it regardless of my own thoughts. It’s good to mix up your reading lists with things that make you uncomfortable, and even though I wouldn’t necessarily categorize it as “uncomfortable,” there is something creepily odd and unsettling about it. Point being: Reading approved!
Rating: 4.5/5 Stars