Dorothy "Dolly" Hooper dies due to breast cancer, leaving behind a devastated husband, Tom. Grief-stricken, Tom becomes reclusive and seems to implode as life goes on without the love of his life. His neighbors and best friends, Mick and Robbie Hamlin, are also heartbroken by Dolly's death, but doubly effected as they watch Tom gradually decay in his sorrow, both physically and mentally. Mick becomes especially concerned in the weeks that follow, as Tom's behavior changes radically and seems to adopt a delusion that Dolly is still in the house with him. Tom and his wife, Robbie, try to be understanding, but when he starts to see strange and disturbing things occurring next door, he starts to wonder if there is something more insidious at work than merely a widower's loneliness.
Under the graying autumn skies of the eastern coast of Nova Scotia, Canada--my home province--we are given a haunting glimpse into one man's torment of watching his friend succumb to the loss of a great love and the insurgence of an ancient evil. Also, we are treated with the alternate view of events as the second part of the novel changes point of view from Mick to Tom, and we are given an even more disturbing glimpse into a life of mourning, delusion, and desperation compounded by the pernicious entity now inside his home. Cancer may have stolen Dolly from all of their lives, but something far worse could end them all.
Loved. This. Book.
I don't get the chance to get in on the ground floor when a great novel comes along, as my acquisitions come from used-book stores and libraries, so I feel fortunate to be one of the first to read Ouroboros. That's because I have the distinct feeling this book is something special. Norm Rubenstein stated that it transcended genre in his extolment for the novel, and I think that's an apt appraisal. Horror fans will enjoy the book, but those who tend to veer away from the darker fiction are going to miss out on a damned good read.
For a brief two-hundred and some-odd pages, there is a powerful and packed story contained in this book's pages. I may be a little biased given the setting is Nova Scotia, but this is a story that would resonate equally no matter where Kelly and Weekes set the stage. The characters are refreshing to read in both their realism and their age--I'm tired of teens being the focus of horror stories and welcome a few septuagenarians (seventy-year-olds, in case you don't know) to take the lead roles.
There is a somewhat mismatched opening scene in the prologue involving a wanderer in the ancient Egyptian desert, but it works over the long haul and you appreciate the sense of history that's going to creep (or slither) into the lives of the Coopers and the Hamlins, not to mention the unfortunate fodder characters that run afoul of the supernatural entities at work. And while I don't want to spoil anything, I will say that I will never look at a snake or an owl the same way ever again. Animals are spooky, boys and girls.
Michael Kelly and Carol Weekes have written a gem of a novel. Read it if you ever get the chance. I have a few more '09 releases sitting on my bookshelf waiting to be read, but I distinctly believe I have read my favorite book of 2009.