Middle Child Press: Review ~ The Woman from Cheshire Avenue (2011)

9.02.2011

Review ~ The Woman from Cheshire Avenue (2011)

From author Dennis R. Upkins:
The Woman From Cheshire Avenue is the story of Lilith Wells, "a successful young black woman, and the daughter of a prominent local politician. After a bizarre first encounter, she becomes the object of obsession to a Neo-Nazi from the streets."

I won't lie. I had serious reservations about this novella. Reading about a psychotic Neo Nazi stalking a black woman is not my idea of quality entertainment. In the hands of a lesser writer, this plot would've been a disaster. However author Ankhesen Mié not only makes it work but takes the narrative and the characters to unexpected places to keep you wanting to find out more.

Mié definitely shows that she has a handle on her characters and there's no finer example of that than Eric, one of the central protagonists and the stalker Nazi guy.

Eric is a monster, he's brilliant, he's crazy, he's fucked up, he's complicated, he's sympathetic, he's human. He's a child who's hungry for knowledge and love and said childlike nature and hunger is what keeps him sympathetic and eventually redeemable.

Mié also does an incredible job exploring the world of the Neo-Nazi culture and actually debunks the mystique and point out the truth in realistic manner. She illustrates how so many lost souls find themselves into this life and how easily they get twisted and manipulated into becoming monsters. While they are monsters, Mié objectively shows that they are still human beings and that at least makes them relatable. Their actions are still horrendous, but at least you understand why they are monsters. I haven't seen exploration this intelligent since American History X.

Mié effectively keeps the pacing of the story steady and it never drags or flies through anything. That's a trait that few authors possess and said trait is a testament to her skills as a writer. Because of my busy schedule, I thought it would take weeks for me to finish this story. But because of the plot and the intrigue, I ripped through the novella in days. I eagerly wanted to find out what happened next.

One thing I would've like to have seen more of is Lilith's motivation. There was much that was hinted at but there were leaps of logic in her choices that still left me wondering, particularly her initial encounter with Eric but even still, you definitely like Lilith as a character.

But hands down for me, the biggest treat was the Hirosawas. Michael virtually stole every scene he was in without even trying. The guy is an asshole (and a killer) but he's got style and nuance. Rachel was an immensely powerful character that her impact resonated in the few scenes she was in. I look forward to seeing how things play out in The Velvet Hall.

I definitely enjoyed The Woman From Cheshire Avenue, but more than that, I'm eagerly awaiting The Velvet Hall.