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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: 6 x 1.2 x 8.8 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: #1,376,481 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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Customer Reviews

I really enjoyed reading this debut novel from Robert Jackson Bennett.
Overall, and though I think the ending was rushed, this was interesting enough to keep me turning the pages - and good debut.
Dick Johnson
It's just that again, the story seemed to be marred by the author trying to cram too many ideas into one book.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By T. Edmund on February 20, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Mr Shiver's has many names, most call him death.

This novel follows Connelly, a ruffian hobo, as he pursues Mr Shivers the murderer who killed his daughter. The book is set in depression age America, and very much feels like the TV series Carnivale, so if you're a fan then this book is a must read.

The initial setting of Mr Shivers is very powerful, we can almost feel the grime and desperation of the characters and the mystery of Mr Shivers is absolutely wicked.

There are a couple of shortfalls, the supernatural development of the story is potentially a bit alternative for many readers (judging from other reviews) considering that the direction of the novel is fairly open at the beginning. Like I said I'm sure the author was inspired by the show Carnivale so expect symbolism and grand scale ideas hidden in downtrodden characters in small scale situations.

The side character are also a little weak, they are just interesting enough to keep the story moving, but one find themselves uncompelled by anyone other than our main man Connelly.

The prose is well balanced, the author uses skillful language without loosing clarity and the setting and action of the novel is just so seamless its worth a read. I particularily like the use of rumour to enhance the mystery.

Extremely recommended
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12 of 15 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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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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J. A. Bell VINE VOICE on February 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I thought this was a beautifully written horror story about dark, difficult times (The Great Depression, the dust bowl, Hoovervilles) and dark, difficult subjects (revenge, vengeance, death). There was enough suspense here to keep me interested for hours at a stretch. I found the dialogue realistic and thought-provoking: "...if a man buys a steak, did he kill the cow? He did not kill it himself, certainly, but it died for him and so he eats it and is satisfied for a day or more. Just as a tree's roots eat the decaying bodies of animals and other trees, even if it did not choke out their life." In places, the writing had a lyrical quality, "Evening fell softly. The gently clouded sky swam past the mountains, dappling the hillsides with violet spots and streaks. As they followed the road they came by a dance taking place in a field. Lanterns and torches bobbed up and down and sousaphones and trombones played a civilized waltz. They listened and followed the music." At some point, I began to remember a story I read in high school, The Lottery, by Shirley Jackson. Bennett is someone who obviously paid attention in literature classes. I thought the use of hobo code at the head of each chapter was a masterful device, as was the Ouroboros symbol of the cycle of death and life. I like Stephen King and have read most of his works, but I don't see a lot of similarity between the two writing styles. At times, I found myself re-reading parts of Mr. Shivers for clarity or because a passage had such a lilting quality. Overall, an excellent effort.
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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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