Saturday, February 18, 2012

Review: The Vagabond King

Title: The Vagabond King
Author: James Conway
Genre: Contemporary Fiction

When his mother dies and he discovers the man he believed was his father is not, sixteen year old Chris is haunted by a mysterious appariton that forces him to question his pampered existence and embark upon a quest to find himself. Hoping she will “make a man of him”, he seeks sanctuary in the home of Magda, a middle aged waitress with a penchant for sex, only to discover she lives with her father, a cigarette smoking, beer swilling immigrant.

Chris hates his shabby new surroundings at the end of the street and the shabby old man at the end of his life who spends his days listening to old blues records and making Chris fetch him fresh cans of beer. But, when the old man tells tales of Communism, torture, escape and the mysterious medallion he wears, Chris learns that, like the old man’s skipping records, history repeats itself and the roles we play have been played many times before. --Amazon

The Vagabond King had a unique sense of style that had me immediately turning the pages from the moment I picked it up. The language was rich and the storyline was fresh. My qualms were the formatting and repetition mostly. The characterization didn't entirely reach me on a level I wanted for this type of story either to be honest, but in the end, it was still an engaging enough read to hold my attention throughout.

Chris definitely had the appeal of an adolescent with his attitude at times--but more often than not, I wanted to reach through the pages and strangle him so he'd quit whining about how much his life sucked, etc.. Mayhaps that's because I like my characters more headstrong or charming, and Chris didn't seem to have any qualities along those lines. The ending redeemed him though, thankfully. And he did have other qualities that stuck out along the way to mask the ones I didn't like in the beginning. There was apparent character growth, and for that, I give it a thumbs up.
I personally would have liked to know a more specific timeline and time period. That was a slight quirk that bothered me, but not glaring. It just would have been nice. Even a subtle hint--Chris listening to an mp3 player or something along those lines. How long did he live with Magda and the Old Man? Was he a grown man at the end, no longer the teenage runaway from the beginning? These were questions left when I finished.

Certainly an interesting read--ambitious, and oftentimes even lyrical in its pages--The Vagabond King will appeal to readers who are looking for contemporaries that will leave them thinking after the last page is turned.

3 stars!



1 comment:

  1. You like the type of characters I do. I'll be passing on this one.


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