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It might accurately be stated that a fevered mind is a criterion for setting into the wildly imaginative world of author David Owain Hughes. So be it: I will gladly claim to have such a mind, for I dearly love his writings. ESCAPEES AND FEVERED MINDS is the delightful sequel (delightful for readers, not so for some of the characters) to WHITE WALLS AND STRAIGHTJACKETS. While the first volume was told in short stories within an overarching plot, ESCAPEES AND FEVERED MINDS is straight-on novel, with--wait for it--dual endings! I confess to have read both books as a set, non-stop, not wanting to sleep, eat, and certainly not to socialize. Crystal and Harry; Hob and Bella; Norm and Angharad (I love her name); Santa Klaws, Samantha, Mr. Tickles; Sideshow Necrotic and Sideshow Nightshade; the Mansion and the Circus of Fear; I want to "meet" all of these again. Extreme Horror and Gore, yes; psychosis and selfishness, implacability; all subtly leavened with humor. David Owain Hughes has an exceptional talent and has certainly carved out his own niche. May he rule in it forever.
This marks my 9th read and 9th rave review for David Owain Hughes, so I know what I'm talking about, he's a keeper.
A peeper too.
Ya know, The Wind-Up Toy books have always been my favorites from him but now after reading this sequel, I'm split and torn, I think I may enjoy this picturesque and perverse world a little bit more. Well...until the next WUT read, then I'll circle back again, I'm sure.
Just too damn hard to choooose.
BIG bonus though, this book had that little extra something stand-out special that I'll get to later.
Three notable (notorious) inmates from Castell Hirwaun are given the 'key' to the asylum, along with cordial personalized letters from a man called Wadsworth. <--- that name struck a cord with me, it's definitely a...clue, of some sort...
They have not the time to wonder the 'how's', just stoked to be getting outta there ~ escape time, escape clause.
Unfinished business is about to boom again.
It's totally an inside job....oooor is it???
Through a series of checkpoint instructional notes and gifts from that mysterious Wadsworth facilitator, our escapees find out a little bit of the 'why's'; their attendance is requested at a very important dinner party!
Crystal and Harry, laying low fresh off their sin filled spree in WW&SJ, still doing their bawdy jokes and strokes ventriloquist act, always aiming for that fame and glory that's always ~ befittingly ~ just out of reach. She longs for the pampering prestige of the big city (destined for Broadway!), she knows they are ready but Harry's a bit wooden on the idea.
A newspaper article pinned to her closet door leaves them on edge, the personalized letter invite attached, sends them on a road trip frenzy.
Mr. Tickles (from both the WW&SJ and WUT universes, albeit in very different...statures), hiding out from his past in full incognito clown face, works the freak show circus tent at the fair. He's got two whore sidekicks now, Miss Sideshow Necrotic and Miss Sideshow Nightshade, and they really do bring in the crowds.
It's a one way show stopper for a picked off few though.
Living in squalor in the back of that tent with his with pets, he also receives a mysterious yet awfully knowing letter, requesting his presence.
Everyone has binding ties to someone. Orrrr do they?
Pacts and alliances will be forged in dictated deceit. Secrets, lies, and blood will be spilled.
Oh, that stings. And stains.
All with their own agendas but completely in the dark, off to an ominous dinner party, they head.
What does it all mean, why were they all gathered here under these false and rather contrived pretences....
Impatient and ornery, they refer to the White Walls and Straitjackets book to try to make sense of any of it...
Wadsworth doesn't seem to be of much use, he assures them he is 'just the butler' and they all must wait for the guest of honor, t's will be dotted and i's will be crossed for our feigned and forlorn attendees, in due time.
The writing is on the wall, they just have to read it, if they can decipher it.
Sh*t's about to get real, it's the write stuff!
Peppered with facebook posts, newspaper clippings, and blog reports and with pit stops at our local Hob's diner (he and Bella are doing quite well with their hush-hush side biz), even a Simone sighting, rounds out this unbelievably intricate and tightly woven tumultuous tale.
With such a jaw drop dropping ending(...s), I like how he just...quite simply 'goes there', in fact I think he pretty much just up and leaves. Mic drop style.
He turned this one on it's head. Exorcist style.
Ok, so that special something I mentioned, probably my favorite parts of the book and such a pleasant and unexpected surprise (don't worry, it's not a spoiler, it's an enhancer!) was....Ohh My God no freaking way ~ it's CLUE the movie!!
LOVED IT. How genius for David to sample sprinkle a few iconic pieces from that fantastic cult classic 80's movie into his sequel of a story and it was seamless, fit the tone and flowed upstream with it perfectly!!!
"Don't ask me. I'm just the butler, sir."
"And what do you do, exactly?"
"I buttle, sir."
To the extra ending with the 'Or did it end like this....'.
Talk about a cracking homage. And who doesn't love that movie, if you haven't seen it yet (Uhhhh what the hell is wrong with you...) ~ WATCH IT.
Tim Curry at his barmy British best as the butler, Wadsworth. The whole well-known cast is a riot and the movie is a hoot!
Hardcore and filthy horror
a dash of comical farce
a bloody goodtime read.
The entire concept and execution(s) of this was great, very unique and super clever with that Clue infusion. It did a complete 180 from the tone of WW&SJ, yet still maintained the integrity (or lack thereof) of the characters and stayed true to the storyline.
Just brilliant, Mr. Hughes! ** APPLAUSE**
Utterly beyond impressive how David blends his stories and worlds together, so tight, so taunt, so titillating. He is unabashedly filthy and disgustingly graphic yet writes with such a deep sophistication, has complete control and vision for his characters, you can tell they are like family to him. Ehhh...they probably are his family and we're just reading a bunch of memoirs with names changed to protect the guilty...
BUT yes, all his stories are carefully crafted, nothing is random, it all has meaning and he often adds in some quirky, yet oddly relevant, winks and nods.
He really can get away with any sort of debauchery that warped Welshian mind of his can come up with. Like a raucous shock jock who plays power ballads, and sheds a tear in between the riffing and ribbing and gyrating of it all.
The originality, the humor, and just off-the-wall (off his rocker) cleverness, he's got it in spades, and hearts. Bit and pieces of an Old Maid thrown in there too, just kind of...scattered about.
I truly believe there IS a little bit of him in all his characters, or vice versa.
So savvy, highly original, and very incriminating. :O
I've tried to keep this review pretty vague on the plot, it's just too damn fun to read in the dark with the rest of the characters.
I wish I could read it again and not know what I know now.
And now I'm gonna quote myself (yes...I'm going there...) from my WW&SJ review that perfectly sums up David.
'..fear not...there are always rotten rhymes and retched reasons to his methods of morbid madness.'
I taglined ya Hughes, don't have to force that fit. Like a love glove.
I had to fix a typo in my quote first though... * facepalm, so daft
One little piece of priceless advice for you Mr. Hughes; don't ever go on meds OOOR don't ever change up your meds.
You're therapeutic excellence, dude.
I know, I know....I get a little giddy, I get a lot silly, I really can't help it. Some authors I just go batsh*t looney tunes over, and this Welshian Writer Savant is high up on my hits list. Picture me, just a tickled pink purring on cloud 9 lives in 7th extasy heaven.
SOOO, bring on the 3rd!!
And yes, I know, I know, half the characters are...ahem, compromised BUT with the skills this particular author has with all his flashbacking, hallucinating, and...erecting they ALL can get ample, supple screen time still. Spin that web wider, no telling what you'll catch.
I received this book from the author thru Library Thing in exchange for an honest review.