The Stranger from the South by Sean Nealon is a story of a human man who is saved from what can best be described as zombies by a group of spirits and the Archangel Michael and is made immortal to do the work of the Lord in many ways like an angel. We follow Baruch, our saved baby, through his many adventures as he is given quests by the Archangel Michael sent from God. Sometimes Baruch is able to do these quests with no problems but often his own will gets in his way and something must be done. As we find out what that something is, Baruch recounts his story to a Rabbi in the time he has left to do so.
There’s some really good parts to this story. The quests are really odd when you factor in that we are somewhat dealing with Biblical times. I haven’t read Abe Lincoln the Vampire Hunter but I’m going to imagine that that is a lot like what we read here. Regardless of perhaps their odd component, they are interesting and keep us vested in our main character; which happens to be another aspect of something that is positive in this book. The character of Baruch is relatable…how many times of we ourselves wondered off path? He is also a hero and we root for him through his journey. The quests themselves are full of action that keep us reading through them. The story in and of itself is great and engaging. However, the writing distracts us so much from that that it is hard to keep reading.
The first, and really perhaps the biggest problem with this book is it’s unrealistic length that is just simply not needed. The characters at times repeat the exact same sentence in at least five ways before moving on and honestly, then they come back to repeat that sentence at least ten more times. It was aggravating to try to read through. The reader got it and we want to now move on. Editors often use the phrase “write tight” and this book needs slashed more than Michael Myers in Halloween could do. Unless it is edited majorly I can’t see a reader being interested in it. The next bit of editing that is needed is grammar and punctuation. There are many oddly worded sentences that I wasn’t even sure what the author was trying to say, except that I recognized the repeated phrases from previous sentences so I knew I didn’t need to try that hard anyway.
Lastly this book has a very peculiar point of view. The entire book is done in quotes, and not quoted properly at that, because the main character is talking. Prior to meeting Baruch which is some time into the book, I assumed the Rabbi was our main character and he is given much more prominence than is needed. The book is a mix of third person omniscient and first person and really the whole book just needs to be worked into first person so Baruch can tell his story. The third person perspective largely centers around the Rabbi which really isn’t that important of a character.
Overall, this is a really cute story. There’s four parts to it so the action in the plot kind of goes through all the parts of a plot about four times through but that actually works just fine. I can’t, however, see most readers stick around through all the unnecessary pages and repeated information and confusing point of view that comes across in such an odd way to find out if they like the story. This book would greatly benefit from a thorough editing job and maybe a couple of rewrites to get the point of view ironed out. My belief is this would cut the book almost in half, really having a big page count doesn’t make a great book, the quality of what we read is what we are concerned with and I think this has some major editing to go before it’s going to really going to both capture and keep the reader’s attention.