S.Y. Thompson’s latest novel, Woeful Pines is an excellent adventure, truly emblematic of the essence of speculative fiction. Go wherever the story takes you and prepare to be entertained.
Susan Thompson happens to be one of those rare writers who devise plots that can inevitably surprise the reader. With consistently unique, clever, page turning stories, Susan reveals a propensity to push limits without stumbling into triteness — Woeful Pines, being no exception. In this tale, Thompson aptly demonstrates the beauty of speculative fiction: writing where description begins in the author’s imagination, but finishes in the reader’s. In complex plots composed of shifting landscapes of possible worlds, alternative futures, supernatural, space travel, and dystopian landscapes, Susan can spin such miasma into a cohesive tale.
The plot of Woeful Pines can amuse the reader with a detective cum romance story while simultaneously, albeit subtly, compelling the reader to question the nature of reality. Thompson switches the novel’s landscape by weaving portals into another, darker world, without ever seeming to leave rural Kentucky. As a matter of fact, moving the setting to an entirely different world occurs while investigating a series of unexplained disappearances. The shift of setting along with of the some attributes of plot tension makes Woeful Pines illustrative of speculative fiction: it refuses simple placement into any one genre.
That is one surprise for the reader: what sort of book is this? The main character, Emily Baptiste, is investigating disappearances in rural Kentucky, which makes the book appear at first glance, a crime drama. Emily meets the local sheriff, Jenna, and a romance spark ignites. During an investigative event gone awry, a portal for inter-dimensional travel reveals the existence of vampires. However, the vampires are not of the expected sort whatsoever — now moving the plot into fantasy/horror genre, but in a refreshingly different manner. The alternative world contains a dystopian world, fraught by domination, power and corruption, replete with counter-cultural rebellion. Incredibly, such disparity is seamlessly formed into a pleasing story, which, ultimately, love requited. Remarkable!
Susan Thompson creates a complex plot, multi-faceted, and with exceptional attention to narrative and sensory imagery. The characters of Emily and Jenna are brilliant, strong, sexy, engaging heroines. The antagonists are equally well written, as the embodiment of beautiful, yet flawed females, within a society built on corruption and power. The story is wonderfully different and unique, totally worth a read, perhaps even a second one as well.
Regardless of novel genre preference, Susan Thompson manages to please with Woeful Pines.
(publisher review copy received)