I’ve stated time and again that describing new works using existing ones is lazy and reductive. But this book is impossible not to compare. So here we go. A western Shape of Water tale.
And if you’re thinking what? how? The west is dusty and arid and aquatic creatures need…well, aqua, then you’re absolutely right. It’s an undeniable fact and one the author inexplicably chooses not to address. At all. At no point during the 190 or so pages of this volume is it mentioned that the eponymous Charlie Fish, fished out and forced to live on land, needs or requires or might die without water. Go figure.
But then again, the author kind of gets away with that logistical snafu because the book is so good. I don’t even particularly like westerns and I can recognize the beauty within these pages, the easy-flowing, organic narrative style, the profoundly engaging characters, the almost-musicality of writing.
The story itself is very simple and straight-forward. In 1900 Galveston, Texas, a freshly cobbled-by-circumstance-together family (a widow, a lone man, two young orphan siblings–a seer and a gunslinger, and a sea creature) fights to survive a pair of scoundrels AND the most devastating natural disaster to hit US.
Their abode might not be high enough for the rising waters, but their moral ground is as elevated as K2, which in many ways doubles their work and the danger.
All in all, this book was an absolutely pleasure to read, one that went by quickly, delighting and entertaining throughout. Recommended. Thanks Netgalley.
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