I realized something the other day. How in the world could I have been so selfish? All I’ve been doing is braying about my own writing, and for the most part ignoring everyone else’s writing. In that spirit, I proudly present… The Friday Review!
You’re supposed to clap now.
No? That’s okay. Anyway, The Friday Review is a review that I post every Friday. It might be a Hollywood movie. It might be a video game. It might be a giant Russian historical epic. Tonight, it’s The Night-Walk Men, an ambitious and enthralling “novelette” by Jason McIntyre.
This is the kind of story that demands a review. The Night Walk Men is a supernatural tale about beings that kill people. They’re never entirely sure why. There is a hierarchy of power, and when something higher on this hierarchy decides that something has to die, the Night Walk Men make sure that happens. I want to call them phantom hitmen, but that would fall short of what the story is trying to convey.
When one Night Walk Man befriends a human, he gets in terrible trouble.
That’s all the details I’m going to tell you. I’m not trying to be mysterious. That’s truly everything I can tell you about this story without spoiling it. This is the kind of story you have read for yourself to get.
Why? Part of it is the way it is told. The narrator is another Night Walk Man, and he tells his story haphazardly. One moment, he will utter an odd, grandiose speech about the meaning of death, life and duty. In the next sentence he might say something else entirely. Let me show you.
“Be aware. When it’s mild, when it’s temperate, we’re there. We’re always there and that’s a promise. But when it’s raining, we’re there in droves. We’re there for keeps.
That’s a guarantee.
You want to chat about the weather first?
Fine. We can definitely chat about the weather first. “
(McIntyre, Jason (2011). The Night Walk Men (Kindle Locations 44-47). Unknown. Kindle Edition.)
He’s having a conversation with you, and it takes some getting used to. Jason doesn’t pull it off perfectly. He lets the rambling part go on for too long, and fascinating as it is, I wish he had stayed more focused on the story itself.
Luckily, in the end, The Night Walk Men isn’t something you read for the story. Don’t get me wrong. The writing, characters, and plotline are all well-done. There is one scene in particular that is one of the most unique, poignant, and downright terrifying things I’ve ever read. I will never forget that old blind saxophone player.
But when I finished the book, I wasn’t thinking about that. I was thinking about those odd, grandiose speeches about life and death and duty. They are the true core of The Night Walk Men. Jason is trying to convey an abstract, universal authority. He throws a lot of different phrases at you, as he tries to convey this authority. He gets about as close as any human can. And that’s how I’m going to praise him. The world of Cruithne, the valley past the clouds, will haunt my thoughts for some time to come.
Whether it would haunt you, too, I cannot say. You’ll have to find out for yourself. What I promise you for sure is an original, brilliant tale from a man who writes with the best of them. Take a chance. It’s worth your time.