EAB Publishing’s first novel was David Atkinson’s The Garden of Good and Evil Pancakes. Though publishing this surrealistic answer to Waiting for Godot was a joint decision between myself, EAB president Tim Benson, and the other editors, I pushed for it. I explain why here.
Since many people have told me it is nice to read my explanation about why I picked Atkinson’s book for publication, I thought I’d do it for Braxton to.
Like to read it? Here it goes . . . .
When Benson brought Braxton to my attention, I was not eager to read it. A vampire hunter book? I thought. Seriously? If it isn’t Buffy the Vampire Slayer, what’s the point? But I gave it a try because Benson is my boss and Jeremy Morong, the talented man who wrote it, was, at the time, an acquaintance. I’d like to think he has since become a friend. But that’s another story for another time.
As soon as I opened the manuscript I was pulled into a strange new world of monsters and monster hunters, a world that has a surreal, frightening, and fun feel to it. In a way, it is a world that reminds me of Sunnydale, CA, only in a different time. The characters are as realistic as the characters who inhabit that town after all, and the scenarios are just as otherworldly. A few hours after starting the manuscript, I looked up from my computer screen to see how long it had been. At this point, I was about halfway through the book and wanted to call Benson to say, “Yes,” but, being a true editor, I had to finish it first. So I returned to the story.
When I was done, I wished I had saved the last few chapters to finish some other time. So I told Benson EAB should publish this book. And I think that’s my litmus test. If I find myself reading for enjoyment instead of out of my editorial duty, I know I’ve hit on a story I love.
But what is it that makes The Adventures of Braxton Revere so lovable? Honestly, it’s a little bit of everything but most significantly, the characters. As has been noted by at least one reviewer, the characters aren’t really characters at all, but real people. This, dear reader, is worth about a million hit points in your literary arsenal. Our hero, Braxton, is a man unsure of himself, but determined to do right. Is he a great man? No. His hamartia is evident in all of his actions. This, of course, humanizes him more than most pulp heroes. His friend and only sympathizer, Taylor, brings comedy and complexity to the story. Finally Patch, an homage to everyone’s favorite science experiment gone wrong (Frankenstein’s monster), helps throw not only Braxton’s concept of monster out the window, but readers’ as well.
What I mean to say is that the beauty of this novel lies in its characters’ tricky complexities. Yes, it is a fun adventure that is readily readable for pretty much anyone old enough to handle some undead action. I mean, this should be evidenced by its release. Did you know it has an exclusive one-time-only O Comic Con variant cover that you can no longer purchase? It does. I have it. It’s totally awesome and looks like a classic video game cartridge. It’s whatever. No big deal.
Here it is:
So it looks like a fun read, and to be sure it is. But there is more going on here . . . .
The story begins in medias res with this brilliant quote:
- “When word was brought to me of the von Braun tragedy, I wasted no time springing to action. I saddled Midnight and together we stormed toward New London. The sleepy burg had once had big ideas of being something more. Don’t we all?”
This line’s greatness lives in its dual complexity/simplicity. On the surface, its meaning is obvious. Readers know something bad has happened and the narrator (Braxton) wants to help. But dig deeper and it’s clear this isn’t going to be a run-of-the-mill pulp adventure. In these few sentences, readers also learn Braxton has a somewhat self-defeatist mindset and perhaps something of a grudge against New London. We wonder why. We want more.
Morong delivers. His voice is strong. His point is clear. Though this is an adventure/journey story on par with some of the best pulp I’ve read, with twists and turns, talking skulls, witches, vampires, and all sorts of things that go bump in the night, that isn’t all there is to this tale. There is something about friendship and camaraderie that can’t be denied. There is something about acceptance and family. There is something good. No, it isn’t a book that wears its messages on its sleeve, but that’s only because Morong is too good of a writer to do that. He manipulates us into becoming friends with Braxton and crew. He manipulates us into caring whether or not they defeat the great evil that is Ralugard the vampire. Morong manipulates us into believing it’s all real.
That’s why I like this book of a rough and rugged vampire hunter with a fool and a monster for best friends. Sure, it may seem like simply a fun pulp adventure (and there would be nothing wrong with that). But like I said, there is something more. It’s Morong’s heart and beliefs opened up for all to see; but done in such a way that we do not know we are looking at it. We are simply spending time with our friends as they try to save each other and mankind from the monster under our collective bed.
For the next week, EAB Publishing is letting the digital copy of this book go for only $1.00. I suggest you give it a gander.