While, in a digital age, I find myself having less time for thought, I do find that my avenues for introduction to various artists is much more open. Such was the case when Jennifer Cross’ Gabriel was suggested to me. I knew little about it, neglecting to pursue my usual leads such as reviews or blatant spoilers. I knew it was in a supernatural vein, which I love, and that it was free that weekend (also a positive on the lowly comic book store workers income).
From what I can tell, this is Jennifer Cross’ debut novel and with that in mind I think it was a rousing success. I’m the kind of person who likes to hear the bad stuff first though so well go into that first. To start with, the typos were my worst foe in this novel. While they were not on every page, I found them often enough that they could quickly remove me from the moment, which in this novel was very much a tragedy. The characters that Cross crafts (OK that is enough of an awesome tongue twister that I am unwilling to edit it out) are very real, almost too much so at times. The are real people with real foibles, weaknesses, attitudes. As such, I found it difficult to like some of them as much as I was probably supposed to. They were, however, a perfect fit for the story she wove.
The pacing of the novel was a bit strange to me. I’m not going to say it was a bad thing per se, but it was a bit jarring when the story kicked into high gear, somewhere around half to two-thirds of the way through the book. Up until then, the auther had been willing to skip weeks or longer to set the tone and develop the characters. Once the climactic shift had started, it was every minute for itself. Honestly, it reminded me a lot of Koontz, who has written some of my favorite supernatural/suspense fiction. So take from that what you will.
The world presented to the reader was genuine. The author’s passion came through strongly here as she wove together this little Colorado town with all of its idiosyncratic tendencies. Such was the detail of the environment and characters that Cross either pulled strongly from her own experiences or did a significant amount of research to present the reader with a world that could be accepted without question.
The story itself was well-woven. Cross makes a playful game throughout the book of doling out clues regarding what kind of supernatural mystery we have that often led me to shout out to whomever was nearby at the time I was reading what I though was going on at that moment. It says something that people began to ask me if i was right about my theories instead of avoiding my presence entirely. Wanting to keep the suspense alive for future readers, I will spare you those guesses and what the mystery of Gabriel truly was. After all, the joy for me was in the journey.
Jennifer Cross has proven to me that independent publishing in this increasingly digital age is not only possible but should be encouraged. Gabriel was a well written story that lacked the sex and sensationalism that so often dominates this genre. Don’t believe me? Go and try it for yourself. At $1.99 it definitely worth finding out.