What's New
 Colet and
  What Music?
Banned Books
About Me
 Hosted By:
Ex Libris
Green Man
Video Vista
Designed for
 1024 X 768
 and Internet
Craig's Book Club
Book Recommendations

Spotlight on: A Choir of Ill Children by Tom Piccirilli

To arrange to have products considered for review, send an email to craigsbookclub@yahoo.com.

A Choir of Ill Children by Tom Piccirilli Tom Piccirilli, A Choir of Ill Children

I'd unknowingly stepped into a world so foreign (yet strangely familiar) and disturbing that for at least ten pages into three-time Bram Stoker Award–winning author Tom Piccirilli's A Choir of Ill Children, I was totally disoriented. I didn't know how to process it mentally, and to me that's a definite sign of a brilliant author at work. This story of Thomas and his three conjoined-triplet brothers starts out strange and then gets really weird. I love that in a book -- challenge my perceptions.

There are different kinds of horror fiction and each one has its own proponents. There is the horror of fear, where the likelihood of people being harmed is high; the horror of action, where the escape from a perceived harm is the main component; and the horror of the weird, where characters and events are so strange and unfamiliar that the natural response is to be afraid of them (the main reason why Tod Browning's Freaks is considered a horror film, and indeed a carnival geek plays a pivotal role in this novel). A Choir of Ill Children belongs firmly in the last camp. In fact, I was wondering if Piccirilli (whose The Night Class won 2002's Stoker for Best Novel) was trying to make things as odd as possible or if the characters in his own brand of Southern gothic appeared in his mind fully-formed.

A motley crew of characters populate the town of Kingdom Come, including a couple of women who are competing for the affection of the tragic triplets. (Piccirilli gives the three brothers oddly conflicting personality traits, and then ironically has them share the power of speech.) Also in attendance is Drabs Bibble, son of the local reverend (and a minister himself -- he presided over Thomas's marriage) who speaks in tongues following a breakdown (connected to an unrequited love for Thomas's wife), and spends a lot of time publicly nude. (The often-nude son of an important member of the community is right out of Orson Scott Card's Seventh Son, but Piccirilli somehow makes it, along with everything else in the rest of A Choir of Ill Children, feel completely original.)

Adding to the proceedings are two concurrent investigations taking place in town: one for information regarding the attempted murder of a regressed teenage girl, and the other for the town's resident dog kicker, based merely on boot size. The author's lyrical style (Piccirilli is also an award-winning poet) makes it hard to tell dreams from reality, making the reader's perceptions even more difficult to discern. But the emotional heft of the storyline -- the weight of blood ties and the consequences and importance of history -- do a lot to pull the reader along in a story filled with visions of all-days suckers and oxtail soup and a lesson on the cleansing power of lightning. A Choir of Ill Children is a one-of-a-kind novel that won't appeal to everyone, but should be read by fans of literarily-bent genre fiction that don't mind an assortment of oddities. It's really weird, but it's really good.

Click on the links above to purchase any of the books mentioned, or use the search box below to find what you like.

In Association with Amazon.com

(Email me and let me know what you think.)

The Readers Ring
This Readers Ring site is owned by
Craig Clarke
Want to join the ring? Get the info here
The Readers Ring Page
[Prev 5] [Prev] [Next] [Next 5] [Random] [List Sites]