A Better Life by Kyle M. Scott. Review by:Mandy Tyra
The Savvy Scotsman scribes again!!
FINALLY, it has been too damn long since I have had the pleasure of Mr. Scott’s company to keep me warm at night.
Not my choice, it’s been over a year since his last release, The Club; an unhinged and animalistic ~ goretastic and orgylicious ~ story about innocence lost, inhibitions shed, and overindulgence embraced to the extents of which would make the tour guides at Sodom and Gomorrah blush.
It was crude and lewd and one hell of a delightfully down and dirty read!
This book, A Better Life, is much more reserved, subtle in it’s horrificness yet still horrific indeed.
It’s more of an atmospheric slow-burn, a character driven tale with an age-old ethical dilemma at its core.
For those not familiar with Scott’s work and who like their horror a little less on the extreme side, A Better Life would be a fabulous introduction for you.
OH and the supernaturally charged Where The Dead Ones Play also pops in mind. That book is one of the few, that after reaching the last page, I flipped back to the first and began again.
I wasn’t prepared for such a deep and profound emotional journey, I was just expecting an awesome fun read and felt I cheated myself with the bigger picture.
So, after getting a signed permission slip for the feel trip, I dove head first back in and that’s when I really started noting all the brilliant foreshadowing, somber symbolisms, and hidden/double/missing meanings that Kyle laced his spooky story with.
Nothing short of pure brilliance.
It’s critically acclaimed for a reason, yea…occasionally those critics get it right. hahaha
Ok so, I got a little sidetracked ~it happens~ now back to thisreview, there are only 5 characters in this book, just 5, and the entire thing is set at a remote location out in the Nevada desert.
Sounds simple enough, right?
Well, the story may not be complicated but the characters sure suffer some….complications.
Theses are often my favorite types of books and movies. A handful of characters set at a fixed location.
~ We got the young and madly in love married couple, Curt and Jess. He’ll do anything for her which is what has brought them to this desperate point in their lives. They have suffered a few ordeals in their time together and could really use a fresh start, a one way ticket outta the trailer park.
Greed is not their motivation, they just deserve a better life.
~ And then there is Peter, he works as a mechanic at Curt’s shop. He’s a foul-mouthed ex-con boozer whose idea of staying on the straight and narrow is swinging from the short and curlies like some sort of belligerent Tarzan. An avid idiot who is the antithesis of good-intended. Truly a vile character but let’s be honest, those are usually the best ones and I dooo notice in my reviews that I tend to go on and on and on about them, way more than the line or two I devote to the pure-at-hearts.
That may say a lot about me but it don’t mean nothing, well…it don’t!! Lol
~ We also meet the jovial and sassy Lisa, she’s very maternal and enjoys taking care of the people she cares about, she doesn’t mince words and makes a mean sandwich. She’s a mama bear and her involvement is wholly altruistic.
~ And lastly, we have little Miss Emily, a beautiful and oddly aloof 8-year-old girl. Jess takes a real shine to her even though she is a bit unnerved by her stoic nature. She seems to be taking all of this a bit too well.
But everybody’s nerves are on edge and young Emily just must be lost in a sort of shock, she assumes.
It was supposed to be so easy, go off without a hitch. I mean, what could possibly go wrong?
E V E R Y T H I N G.
The set-up was simple. The follow-through was anything but.
Teamwork makes the Dreamwork!! Well, unless equations factor in because:
Best Laid Plans + Murphy’s Law = Chaos Theory
So just what constitutes a better life anyway…. Wealth? Health? Happiness? Freedom?
At the root, it’s a morality tale that teeter totters that ambiguous line of immorality.
Maybe some sort of catch-22 form of immortality too….
Intrigued? You bet your sweet ass.
There ain’t no sweet in that bitter though, just pure bitter…but a bit of sour too.
Kyle really takes us to some dark places in this story. He plays on (and with) a genuine fear
everybody has. Sin. Just how much sin does it take to overshadow virtue?
Is there a past-the-point-of redemption?
And who decides this….
This book really brings up some moralistic questions.
Remember when I mentioned the vile characters and how much fun they were, well that’s only if the writer is cunning enough to create them multi-textured and with a bit of depth. The last thing I wanna read is some color by numbers, over the top, caricature antagonists.
That just takes me right out of the story.
And I never fear cause Kyle writes them ALL so well ~ the good, the bad, and the fugly.
Another skill I applaud in a writer, what separates the good writers from the great writers, is when they know when to show restraint. I especially admire how in this one scene, this one shocking scene, he wrote it happening ‘off screen’, only audible for another character.
I know it must be hard for extreme authors to practice that kind of self-discipline, to have the foresight and be intuitive enough to know when to hold back and just let the scene sell itself.
It really can be far more impactful and cringe-inducing that way.
Of course I also love it when they go all out bat-shit/buck-wild explicitly crazy on our asses too, which is what Kyle is known for, and excels at.
Aaaand that’s it!!! If you think I’m gonna tell you more, think again.
This ain’t that kind of book and I ain’t that kind of girl!
Well….I am, but this isn’t.
I do wish I could go on but I can’t, I sequester myself with all of my Kyle reviews and yes, I know my silence it’s awfully…disquieting.
That’s the point.
You have to experience The Kyle Style for yourself.
He’s a real write-outside-the-box kind of author.
Smooth as silk, tough as nails, and as real as the 5th dimension.
My only complaint ~ and it is a biggie ~ is that he does not write new stuff nearly enough.
But I guess that’s the perfectionist in him, a writing force to be reckoned with.
I can’t wait for his next tour de force.
It’s supposed to be The Infernal about a rapturous-like apocalypse (…rap-poc) and it’s due to come out in July-ish…
BUT, our Mr. Scott does not abide by our repressive Gregorian calendar, he soars the scenic route, transversing along his own celestial course, like a natural-born star ~ a writer rock star.
Sooo….we’ll get it when we get it and it will be worth it. I guarantee it.
If any of you actually made it this far in my review, WOW, I’m impressed or maybe you’re just still on the toilet.
No matters. Preciate Ya either way!
Yea, I used to try to watch the word count but attempting to cut-the-fat always made them bloat more.
So I surrendered and learned to just let my red freak flag fly freely in my reviews, or…little articles.
They’ll end when they’re good and ready.