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Mr. Shivers Hardcover – January 15, 2010

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Orbit; First Edition edition (January 15, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316054682
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316054683
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 5.7 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,340,625 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, January 2010: With his debut novel, Mr. Shivers, Southern writer Robert Jackson Bennett presents a pulpy, Great Depression horror story where a mysterious killer "trails death behind him." After his daughter is brutally murdered, a revenge-seeking Marcus Connelly leaves Memphis on a hunt across America's hobo camps and ghost towns for the grotesquely scarred, ghostly figure known as "Mr. Shivers." On his quest Connelly teams up with a scrappy band of hobos recovering from their own brushes with "the gray man," and the body count increases as they ride the rails tracking their target. Connelly's spiraling bloodlust begins to rival Shivers's, threatening to take more than just his family and friends away from him. Sprinkled with hobo folklore, Bennett's supernatural dust storm of a debut offers a killer premise and may remind readers of vintage Stephen King. --Brad Thomas Parsons

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Set during the Great Depression and reading like a collaboration between Stephen King and John Steinbeck, this remarkably assured first novel relates a good man's desperate travels through the ruins of the American heartland on the trail of his child's murderer. As he tracks the eponymous fiend, Marcus Connelly discovers that he's not the only person whose life the killer has ruined. The Dust Bowl refugees pursuing Mr. Shivers gradually realize that he embodies an elemental force of destruction, and they begin sacrificing their own humanity for the sake of vengeance. The everyday horrors of a deserted, drought-blighted countryside are interrupted by frightening dreams and fragments of disturbing superstitions as Bennett's characters try to articulate what's happening and imagine a way back home. Bennett makes dark fantasy feel like gritty realism, achieving a rare laconic eloquence that will captivate horror readers hungry for new voices. (Feb.)
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More About the Author

Robert Jackson Bennett was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, but grew up in Katy, Texas. His interest in writing came from hearing about the books his older brother was reading and then attempting to mimic them on paper, though when his brother became interested in Stephen King and the stories written for Robert's elementary school class developed a correspondingly high body count it did cause something of a ruckus. He later attended the University of Texas at Austin and, like a lot of its alumni, was unable to leave the charms of the city and resides there currently. His first novel is "Mr. Shivers."

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

59 of 81 people found the following review helpful By K. Harris HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on December 16, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I must admit that when I initially dug into Robert Jackson Bennett's debut "Mr. Shivers," I thought I had uncovered a winner. With its intriguing premise and set-up, I looked forward to seeing this story unfold with moral complexity, insight, and building tension. Set in Depression era America, "Mr. Shivers" chronicles the travels of a vagabond known simply as Connelly. Connelly's life unraveled when a murderer took the life of his only child. Desperate for closure and resolution, he has taken to the rails--moving from shanty town to shanty town in pursuit of the killer. On the road, he meets other vagrants whose lives have also been unsettled by the mysterious stranger known only by the alias of Mr. Shivers.

I loved the setting of "Mr. Shivers!" The idea of a mass murderer stalking the homeless camps and wreaking evil on a nation that is already suffering so much seemed a perfect jumping off point. But as I continued to read, I felt that Bennett missed many of the weighty and relevant issues that might have naturally flowed from this premise. Debating the nature of evil and how far a good man will go for justice, especially at a time when people are being forced to compromise their values, might have given the story some resonance. But as Connelly bands together with the others and they commiserate in the horrors that Mr. Shivers has perpetrated, something is just missing. And as I had hoped to know and be invested in the characters, they are never fleshed out as real people.

Bennett's interpretation of "evil" becomes more and more mythological (and literal) as the novel progresses and moves further and further into the realm of the supernatural.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Konrad Baumeister VINE VOICE on December 30, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Bennett's Mr. Shivers is a fantastic blend of a murder mystery, an historical novel, a surreal travelogue,a journey into the darkest corners of one's soul, and a supernatural thriller. The various scenes and characters blend in and out, and the reader rides into and out of 'real' scenes, dream sequences, allegorical encounters, the underworld, heaven and hell, all often without knowing it until in the middle of them; it's fascinating, and really well done.

Throughout, Bennett's Depression-era characters, scenery and burnt-out lives throb with life, desperation, and conflicting agendas. His dialogue is crisp and well-done, iconography thoughtful and deep, his motivations compelling. The story can sometimes be touching, or alternatively shock with sudden and explosive violence.

As the story moves from a quasi-conventional beginning through a series of scenes loaded with hints, doubts and bits of foreshadowing, and moves to a more ambiguous morality tale, and finally becomes downright surreal and supernatural, it picks up speed, urgency, and becomes a seriously bumpy ride. The author has crafted a really well done work.

To say much more would be to give away important parts of the book; but this reviewer can that it is an engaging, thoughtful, and thoroughly thrilling novel, unconventional and deep.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jason Bean on May 19, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Mr. Shivers is a hard book to classify. It's at once a road story, a horror story, a revenge tale and a supernatural thriller (with a bit of western thrown in) all kinda rolled into one easy to read novel.

The plot's pretty simple: in depression era America a normal guy is chasing/following an enigmatic stranger 'Mr. Shivers' whom he belives killed his daughter. Others with similar motivations are tagging along with our protagonist who are also after Mr. Shivers. Along the way they run into everything from natural occurances like sand storms (in one of the novels best scenes) to paranormal oddities like psychics and magical trinkets. In lesser hands all of these elements would fall apart but Robert Jackson Bennett has managed to make every scene of this novel convincing and compelling.

I've read that alot of reviews of this book that didn't like that the supernatural elements in the novel being so literal or presented so practically (at least latter in the book). This didn't bother me one bit and in fact I think it added an unpredictable element to the story rarely seen in horror novels. Even when the novel becomes predictable about half-way through the atmosphere and sense of wonder Bennet has put into his writing made me compelled to read on.

Mr. Shivers is the kind of story most novelists struggle to achieve. Robert Jackson Bennett has written one of the more original stories using the depression as it's back-drop. It's a compelling read from beginning to end!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By W. V. Buckley on February 19, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A man loses his beloved daughter to a man with a scarred face. He sets out to find his daughter's killer across the Dust Bowl of the American Southwest in the 1930s and encounters others who wish vengence on the scarred man.

That's basically the plot of Mr. Shivers. In the hands of a competent first-time novelist like Robert Jackson Bennett the story could have made a mildly interesting take on the serial killer genre. But Mr. Jackson had something different in mind.

Instead of the usual plot devices that go into the hunt for a killer type of stories, Jackson invests his story with something far different. He gives the story a mythic feel. It's as if Odysseus, rather than sailing around the Mediterranean after the battle of Troy, found himself riding the rails as a Depression Era hobo.

Jackson pulls off a daring piece of writing here, layering each new character or setting or revelation with mythic qualities until by the end of the book, the struggle between Connelly and his followers and the titular Mr. Shivers becomes both epic and mythic. It's not a story for everyone. Many readers prefer their serial killers grounded in the world of man and not the realms of gods and demi-gods. For me, half the fun of reading Mr. Shivers was in pairing the characters with their mythological counterparts.

This novel is an astonishing debut and I'm definitely looking forward to what Mr. Jackson will produce next!
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