4 star


Things Grak Hates

By Peter J. Story

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Brought to you by OBS reviewer Scott

things-grak-hatesJourney back to the early days of hunter-gatherer tribes and into the world of Grak. Within Things Grak Hates are all the fine points that go into an entertaining novel:  hatred, greed, lust, suspense, intrigue and power.  The novel, in its own charming way, describes the rise and fall of Grak, a finicky character who succumbs to his whims more often than he listens to reason; or just listens for that matter. It’s a tale, however, with morals that are not so complicated.

Things Grak Hates explores, through Grak, the dangers of too much power in such a society (in the small;  it easily conforms to the larger picture) and the ramifications bestowed, Never preaching a moral high ground, Peter J. Story weaves this rise to power, Machiavellian intrigue, and the dissension in the tribe with flair and panache, The writing style, though a little slow and awkward to begin with – there are three tenses used –third person omniscient, third person active and first person – becomes all too natural the further one gets in the book, eventually becoming ultimately transparent.

It’s this transparency that allows a controversial theme pertaining to government of the people to shine through. The central theme can’t be placed in a “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely” mold, although a strong argument could be made for this. As events start innocently enough it’s hard to stop the rolling stone, and for a simpleton like Grak, who definitely qualifies for anger management intervention (perhaps a little psychological counselling about his hatreds as well), things spiral out of control almost through or despite his actions.

Peter Story’s plotting, from the beginning, to the climax to the ending, is an impeccable piece of work. Grak hates a lot of things and each “hatred” is both reflected in the chapter’s title and events. As the ball starts down the hill with Grak’s seemingly harmless hatred of olives, it soon gathers enough momentum to make any trivial matter a possibly terrifying conflict in the book.  It’s this unpredictability that drives the story forward and makes the reading experience a joy.

The pacing in the novel, as mentioned before starts out slow, but mostly because of the three grammatical tenses used. It rapidly becomes second nature and, as mentioned, transparent after a few chapters. The events flow naturally both from what Grak hates, and from a storytelling perspective. There are twists to be sure but nothing ever seems untimely, or out of place. The ball rolls at just the right speed it needs to be at any given point in the novel.

The story is told from Grak’s perspective, and it’s through him that the menagerie of supporting cast takes their roles. Each character shines in their own way and dialogue is witty and true to the character Grak envisions them to be. Lago, the tribes chef, for example, is seen as “lazy” because he doesn’t do anything with regard to the hunt and just cooks all day; laziness, is something that Grak hates. In fact most of Grak’s “hate list” are anthropomorphized and show themselves in well-rounded characters.

Fans of historical novels, Machiavellian thrillers, and those just looking for the next gem in their collection are strongly encouraged to try out Things Grak Hates. You won’t be disappointed you did.

*OBS would like to thank the author for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review*