Book Review: Andersen Prunty’s The Sorrow King
by Matthew Vaughn
I came across the name Andersen Prunty one day on Bizarro Central when they were announcing that the paperback of his novel Fuckness was available. The premise sounded intriguing so I filed the name away as something to check out eventually. A while later on Bizarro Central, they had what they call a “Free Fiction Roundup”. Right there at the bottom of that list was that name again, Andersen Prunty, this time for the kindle version of The Sorrow King, for free. It’s almost near impossible for me to pass up a free book, especially if it’s an author I’m interested in. So, of course I grabbed it up. What I didn’t know at the time was that I would end up reading it so soon, and that when I started I wouldn’t be able to stop until I was finished.
The Sorrow King takes place in small town Gethsemane, Ohio where the local teenagers are plagued with what is being called The Suicide Virus. The kids are scared that they could be next, wondering if it truly is a virus could they catch it from their friends? The parents don’t know what to do to keep their kids safe, or what could possibly be causing a rash of suicides with teens that seem to have no connection to one another.
The story focuses on Steven Wrigley, a depressed teen living full time with his father, Conner, after his mother’s untimely passing. Their relationship is more of two friends than father and son, no matter how much his father truly does worry about him. Steven has secrets that he doesn’t understand and can’t share with anyone else. Enter Elise, a girl he becomes infatuated with, a girl who has just as many secrets as Steven. Together they both play parts in the darkness that is closing in on Gethsemane, more so than they realize.
What impressed me most about Andersen Prunty’s writing is his characters. He has a solid grasp on developing very real people. Steven’s awkwardness with his hormonal feelings toward Elise reminded me so much of myself in high school. Prunty spells out the confusing emotions of a high school loner like he was following me around taking notes. I could feel for Conner as he struggles to be there for his son. As he tries to get Steven to open up without pushing him away. The fears that the teenagers endure from the Sorrow King are very real, and get you thinking about your own fears, how you would be able to deal with these situations.
The story itself should intrigue any fans of horror, or just fans of new and interesting stories. But the writing itself will draw you in and force you to stay on target until the very end, and like me, will probably leave the reader wanting more. From now on Andersen Prunty won’t just be a name I keep filed away for later, it’s one that I’ll be looking forward to and making an effort to find any other work from.