Today is a very special +1 to Joy that also acts as somewhat of a review for the first published novella of a friend and fellow writer named Moses Norton, better known in the blogger-verse as The Well-Red Mage.
Though I consider Moses a friend, and purchased this book in part to support him in his endeavors, my opinion is in no way compromised by our close work together or our friendship. In fact, I’m pretty sure The Well-Red Mage himself would take me to task for my integrity if I even thought of letting such notions interfere with openly sharing my opinion.
I’ll share my Amazon review with all of you before Amazon even approves it to go up, but spoiler alert, the novella is quite good and I highly recommend a purchase (you can do so by clicking here). After you’ve done that head on over to Twitter and give the author some love, or check out all his video game related stuff on his site where he has some incredibly talented writers working alongside him–oh and also, somehow, me.
Moses Norton’s first published novella has some issues, but ultimately rises above them to present a gripping story told through the lens of a child, recalling the innocence and cruelty of youth with a deft hand.
Once I started The Last Stitch Goes Through the Nose I was instantly captivated by it and could not stop reading it until the last page was turned. Though this is Norton’s literary debut he is adept in weaving a story from the perspective of our main character Orisa, able to embody the world through the eyes of a child. A simple snowy day turns into a wonderland of limitless potential, a mother’s wrath the most unimaginable fury in the world. Such is the world to a child, and though we often see it transformed through their joy and the light they cast, they also see the worst of things in the shadows left behind. Monsters, ghosts, and ghoulish figures fill our imagination as children, and the journey we go on with Orisa in unraveling whether the horror of the Scissor-Man is real or imagined is one that feels suspenseful and keeps the reader motivated to continue the journey.
As adept as Norton is at weaving the narrative through the eyes of the child and inviting us into the world he has created there are times when the situations Orisa faces seem to be custom made to share a thinly veiled morality lesson. There was one moment in particular that made sense to me on a personal level, but as I spied the author’s intent behind the words I stopped feeling like Orisa was real and instead felt him to be a puppet of the author’s intent–fitting considering the scene. Though the actions seemed out of place for the boy I had grown to know at this point, they were nevertheless riveting, and I never once felt drawn enough out of the world to want to put the novella down.
The story played out much as I expected from that moment forward, but it was all described in such a wondrous way I didn’t care that I already knew the way the tale would likely end. Though the author tips his hand early in the book, and there were times that the lesson in the story was a little too apparent, I nevertheless found myself transported in spite of it.
One of the greatest strengths of the writing is that you don’t really know at the beginning what to expect, and much like Orisa you are taken along on this incredibly personal story that, though it is short, somehow still manages to feel epic in nature–perhaps driven by the viewpoint of childhood which tends to make all things large. The whole of the novella reads like a cautionary fairy tale in the best of ways, nestling in neatly beside some of my favorite in the genre.
The character issues and obvious message of the piece aside, this is a wonderful tale that I would recommend to most anyone. What you expect it might be is likely nothing like what it turns out to be, and Norton skillfully keeps you invested in the outcome of Orisa throughout.
If a story this intriguing, gripping, and provoking is the novice work of a first time published author then I cannot wait to see what is next, as Norton already catapults well beyond most amateur works into a realm held aside for truly talented writers.
Score: 4 out of 5 Scissors