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3.7 out of 5 stars
The Masks of Our Fathers
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 17, 2011
When I first started reading novels as a young teen, I started by raiding the Stephen King section of the public library. I didn't know he was a horror guy when I started but I learned pretty quickly. Because of that, any time I read something in the Horror genre I inevitably compare it to King's macabre sensibilities.
Unfair? Yes.
But he has set the standard, for the most part, by which other authors are compared. When I started reading The Masks of our Fathers by Barry Napier, I mentally cleansed my palette. I wanted to try and approach the story with no real expectations. Napier is an independent author putting himself out there and it would be incredibly unfair to compare him off the bat to King.
But a funny thing happened as I started to delve into the tale of Jason Melhor, Napier's protagonist.
I started to get that creepy King vibe.
The mentally unbalanced main character, the desolate setting of a cabin in the back woods, a sinister pervasive malevolence in the air, all of it. Not so much in terms of the narrative, it wasn't like I suddenly wondered if I was reading a lost King novel. This was more in the area of ambiance. While not as intrinsically detailed as King is, Napier begins to craft, in his own way, a dark brooding story of a young man determined to exercise the demons of his youth with a single bullet. While it takes a little while for Napier to find his inner Stephen King - in terms of building the tension and eliciting that fear - I still managed to sink into the story.
There where times when I wondered if the character was hallucinating or if things were really happening to him. As I got deeper, the surreal horrors got more tangible and Napier starts to find his groove. I started to care whether or not Jason was going to make it and the best part was that I found myself unable to tell if he would or not. By the end of the story you can't help but to find yourself tied to the emotions of young Jason Mehlor. Some of the story lost me a little at the end but it was never enough to ruin the pace. Sy Fy would do themselves a favor by optioning this work instead of the usual drivel they roll out on their Saturday night movie of the week.
From a technical standpoint I have to say that this is probably one of the most tightly edited independent novels I have read. I could probably count the errors on one hand. I've read some great stories where I got kicked out of the story by a glaring grammatical or spelling error. It happens - I've done it myself but it was nice to read an independent work this polished.
In the end, Napier tells a well crafted story that keeps you guessing. I could have used a little more detail in some areas, building the tension through the narrative, but overall I was creeped out early and often.
One of the best reasons to read independent authors it the hope that you will discover that diamond in the rough. Napier is more polished than that. A worthwhile read for certain and an author I will definitely look forward to reading again.
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I thought it started off good. I'm immediately wondering why the guy wants to kill himself and with only one bullet, there are oddball hints leading up to that but escalate into something completely different - still tied to elements the cover implies -- which is what prompted me to read it in the first place. That which is on the cover, actually appears in the book for a change! Yay!
There are psychological issues the character faces that explains or merges into - the plot, the creepiness, and the storyline as a whole. I would refer to it as a "horror" story and does not have utter gross out or gratuitous depictions that some people think horror must have. People who are squeamish will be able to enjoy the book. I was glad not to have an ending that was similar to "it was all in his head" or "drugs made me see things that weren't there"
There were a few instances where I thought it wasn't properly "wrapped up" but the story is about Jason, not cameo character's and in real life - you don't always know what happens to another. In this regard, the story still has a satisfactory ending for the main character. I won't give away the details - but I personally just wanted to see more of what happened to Isaac, or a teeny bit more details - which means I was involved in the story to WANT to know more - in some areas, however - the lack of detail bumped up the creepy factor. BUT hearing weird or scary sounding stuff and having it left to the imagination in most instances, is more effective then seeing whatever "it" is and winding up being disappointed ;-) (Like how you felt if you read The Langoliers ;-)
The format is consistent, which is a relief! I can't recall glaring typo's, and I have only two complaints. There is telling in place of showing, and cases of passive sentences that could have made a "ooh" scene into a WHOA! scene.

I would give it 5 stars otherwise.
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on May 22, 2011
The story begins with Jason Melhor driving home to kill himself in his alcoholic father's old cabin. He's brought a gun and only one bullet. He's still trying to pull it off when an injured man rushes inside, pursued by a man wearing an odd wooden mask. And it all goes downhill from there. He ends up tied to an oven and talking to ghosts and dealing with demons -- both real and personal.

Barry Napier shows himself a great story teller here. The only thing that kept this from being a five-star review is that the writing itself could use the benefit of a good editor. But it's mostly minor stuff, writing mechanics your average reader may not even notice much: A few typos, an overabundance of passive voice and an excessive fondness for things "seeming" and "almost" happening. At 270 pages, this isn't a long novel. The beginning takes maybe just a little too long to ramp up, but the middle and fast-paced ending more than make up for it.

Napier's story telling ability largely overcomes the few problems this story has. I stayed up late with my Kindle because I couldn't put it down. I would definitely recommend.
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on April 12, 2011
Sometimes when you go out to the woods, particularly to a cabin in the middle of nowhere, you hear some strange noises out there in the wilderness. Most of the time, you never see what's causing those noises, but you count on it being something you'd see on the nature channel. Well, in Barry Napier's novel, The Masks of Our Fathers, the lingering paranoia that comes from hearing those noises and being unsure just what exactly is making them is used to great effect.

Jason Melhor has returned to his family cabin in central Virginia, outside the small town of Moore's Hollow. He hasn't been there in years, but he hasn't come back for some weekend escape to soak up the ambience and nostalgia. No, he's brought a pistol with him--and one bullet.

That's a pretty good hook, but it's only part of the story. When Jason gets out to the cabin and starts brooding over some bad memories involving his mother's suicide and father's death, he puts that gun in his mouth and discovers he can't pull the trigger. And, right at that moment, someone bursts into the cabin, bloodied, beaten, and scared as hell about whoever--or whatever--is chasing him. Things only get worse when a figure with black eyes and antlers steps into the cabin as well.

Barry's short stories are a treat to read, but this novel took a little time to warm up to. That's because it actually took a few chapters to get to what I thought of as the meat of the story, as the beginning of the book spends its time establishing Jason as a character, as well as Moore's Hollow as the setting. Once it gets going though, it was a pretty hard book to put down--or in the case of my e-book edition, a hard laptop to set down. A few redundant sentences in the first half of the book were a bit distracting, as they seemed to cover the same tidbit of information like a record skipping, but overall the mindset of Jason is delivered in an even flow that makes the story a bit of a mystery on top of a horror story, since not all of his history or his intentions are laid out at the beginning. And when he starts seeing and apparition of his dead father appear in the cabin, the relationships with his family, a lost love, and alcoholism gradually come to bare. Plus, the fear and pain that goes along with being both suicidal and incapacitated was an intriguing mix through the heart of the book.

It's a bit shorter a novel than I was expecting, but that might be a good thing since Jason spends a great deal of time alone, bound and abandoned inside the cabin after his initial encounter with the two strangers. I had a hard time getting into Stephen King's Gerald's Game (Signet)for that very reason, so a slightly shorter novel works for me in that regard. It's a moody, broody horror novel that's worth giving a chance in my opinion, and with it presently going for $1.99 on Kindle, it's a genuine bargain.
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on March 7, 2011
This book is about a man dealing with the demons left behind by an alcoholic father and all that entails. While I felt the book was slow to start, by about four chapters in I was hooked. The premise was great and while it basically had one setting the entire novel that never bothered me. There were times my heart was literally beating hard in my chest during some of the more climactic scenes. I am a little disappointed that I paid $2.99 a little over two weeks ago and it's now $0.99 but what are you going to do?
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on August 24, 2014
I was mostly disappointed in this book. He had written others that I truly enjoyed and found this a chore to just get thru. Glad it was borrowed and not purchased as I would definitely not recommend it. It never really went anywhere and the explanation at the end was poor. Based on this, I would probably not read another of his for awhile.
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on July 23, 2014
Barry manages to take your worst nightmares and put them to paper. I can't stop devouring his stuff!
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