Saturday, March 12, 2011

Jack's Magic Bean's Book Review

Title: Jack's Magic Beans
Author: Brian Keene
Publisher: Deadite Press
Pages: 104
ISBN: 978193638450

Since Brian Keene's first announcement of the publication of Jack's Magic Beans almost four years ago, I've been eagerly waiting to read it. But unfortunately, the publisher who Keene had written it for, was unable to go forward with the publishing of the novella, and Jack's Magic Beans sat, unpublished, and always in the back of the section of my brain labeled 'Keene'. So, when Brian posted on his blog a month or so ago that Jack's Magic Beans would be one of the first books to come out from Deadite Press, I jumped on the chance to review it.

Jack's Magic Beans is a 104 page collection of the novella Jack's Magic Beans, and four short stories, two of which haven't seen much print: Without You, I Am An Exit, This Is Not An Exit, and 'The King', In: YELLOW. And although the collection is short, there isn't a single page wasted; included at the end of each story is a paragraph explaining the piece in detail. Well worth the money for those interested in the background of stories, or are Brian Keene fan.

Jack's Magic Beans: The longest of the five stories, and the main piece of this collection, Keene proves once again why he's a master of the post-apocalypse genre. With Jack's Magic Beans, Keene seamlessly blends talking vegetables, and the end of the world with vicious grandmas and a grocery store full of crazy people. The pace is perfect and the characters make it well worth the read, leaving the reader at the end of the novella -- in typical Keene fashion -- wanting more and wondering what happens next.

Without You: A look into the life of a man who wants nothing more than an escape from his marriage, but can't seem to find solace, even after blowing his brains out with a shotgun. Raw, real and gritty, Keene delivers true horror in this interesting short story.

I Am An Exit: This is one of my favorite Keene shorts that's been penned to date. I Am An Exit shines as a perfect example of his creativity. The story revolves around two men: one who is slowly dying on the side of the road, and the other, a killer. What makes this short story so spectacular is the dialogue between the two men and the vivid atmosphere that it projects.

This Is Not An Exit: A sequel to I Am An Exit, This Is Not An Exit takes place sometime after the story mentioned above. Because it's so short, there isn't much to say about it, without giving too much away, other than the diologue and atmosphere are dead on.

'The King', In: YELLOW: I remember reading this for the first time in Fear of Gravity, a now out of print short story collection of Keene's. My first time reading 'The King', In: Yellow left me wanting more. The premise of the story involves a couple who -- on hearing of a play from a homeless man on the side of the street -- decide that a play would be a perfect way to spice up their weekend. The spiraling events that unfold after meeting the homeless man build to a truly horrifying climax that will leave you shocked. An excellent short to end the collection of Jack's Magic Beans.

Jack's Magic Beans was everything that I had expected, and then some. Overall it's a solid collection with nothing but Keene treasures. A previously unpublished novella, and two rare short stories, makes Jack's Magic Beans a title that should be added to any fan of Keene's library. That's why I'm giving Jack's Magic Beans 9.0 out of 10 TARDIS'.

It's good stuff that's not to be missed!


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