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Benjamin X. Wretlind, has been--at different times, of course--a fry cook, range boy, greens maintenance technician, reservations agent, room service attendant, editor, banquet server, meteorologist, instructor, program manager for Internet applications and curriculum developer.
Ever since he ran with scissors when he was five, Mr. Wretlind has always wanted to write.
He has been published in many magazines, to include The Horror Express, All Hollows: The Journal of the Ghost Story Society, Horror Carousel and Bare Bones. He's penned a few novels, deleted a few novels, edited a few novels and is, of course, writing a few novels.
on April 08, 2012 :
I loved it, read it within a single morning more or less. Dark and brutal, perhaps even disturbed but also alive and true. The story is about a young girl's view of the world and what is going around her, a view twisted by abuse, neglect and self-deprecation. No deus ex machina, no happy endings, just the agony and resignation of a trapped life. Quality writing I would recommend to fans of the genre.
(reviewed 7 months after purchase)
on Aug. 09, 2011 :
Wow am I a slacker! Sorry for skipping out again last week, but I have a review for you today:)
Castles: A Fictional Memoir of a Girl with Scissors. Castles is a is a horror/revenge story written by Benjamin X. Wretlind.
When Maggie was six, she hid from desert storms under the sink where the Comet and Windex were kept. Now twenty, she welcomes the storms. Maggie has been abused, torn apart by the sins of others and constantly feels as if she is living on the verge of some grand epiphany. Then again, she may just be insane. Maggie doesn't know if the four bodies she dismembered and placed inside a rusted Volkswagen Bus are the only bricks left to her castle in the sky, but she hopes you'll understand if they're not. Castles is Maggie's story, a literary horror novel about love and redemption, belief and revenge and what brings a person to madness. Set in a nameless desert in a nameless town, it is the view into the life of a young woman who wonders if madness is really mad.
Wow. As some of you may already know, I am a huge fan of Stephen King. If someone had handed me Castles, and asked me to guess the author, I would have said King without much doubt in my mind. This story is well written and fast paced and I devoured it in something like three hours.
Right from the beginning you fall in love with Maggie, a young girl who has had a very tough life. Abusive men, a cold and distant mother, and a grandmother that seems to hold things together, while at the same time seems to be losing her mind.
Benjamin made me care about his characters and the story, and he did so by showing us their lives, rather than telling us we should care about them. The only complaint I could even imagine is that I wish the story could have continued. The paperback weighs in at about 188 pages, and Castles is available in both paperback and ebook format.
(reviewed 40 days after purchase)
on July 27, 2011 :
Castles held a unique setting that played in two places, it makes a book perfect for a play. I can picture the whole scene in front of me, I can picture the pain Maggie felt, as did her mother, and more interestingly, their craving for it.
It had an odd situation of one who does not defend, but seems to stay in a state of being victimized. Castles has a very strong message imparted through the lives of the three women. The metaphors and its story really embed in the reader's mind, and haunts the mind further on.
It is a book that can be made to a play, and a play that would be watched in a circle, not on a typical stage, for one has to see this story in many points of view, in many angles, and see the similarity and differences at the same time.
An enjoyable read, and a book hard to put down.
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)
on June 10, 2011 :
Castles is one of those books that is tough to read. Not because of the writing, which is tight and professional, but because of the subject matter. Castles is, at its core, a coming of age story that follows a girl, Maggie, from childhood to young adulthood. It is a visceral tale on many levels, one that makes you squirm because what you are reading is so horrible, yet prevalent in the world today. It is a stark story of abuse, rape, victimization and revenge, and there isn't necessarily a happy ending, depending on how you read the story. The only person Maggie trusted as a child, her grandmother, dies while she is still young, leaving her to the mercies of her mother, whose mood changes as the wheels of her own life turn, and the men she brings home to fill the hole in her own life. As she grows older and watches as everything that was good thing in her life dies (the boy she loses her virginity to and the dog they shared), she follows the same path as her mother, choosing relationships that are self-destructive. The difference between her and her mother, though, is that she finally listens to the words that the ghost of her grandmother (or memory, depending on how you read it) share with her. Instructions on how to clean up the mess she has made of her life. The end of the story is open ended in my opinion. Is Maggie going mad after what she has done? Is she going to continue getting into destructive situations just so she has messes to clean up? Or, now that she has cleaned up the mess that was her childhood, is she going to try and close that chapter in her life and live on?
Castles in an interesting story about abuse and family cycles and how they affect the mindset of the people involved. People on the outside looking in may say, "It's over, grow up, make something or your life." But it's never that easy, is it? Once abuse and death and murder become staples of your life, is it possible to become "normal"? Or does that way of life warp the mind enough that there is no coming back?
I enjoyed my time reading Castles (as much as anyone can enjoy reading something of this subject matter). Ben could have been more descriptive in many of his scenes, could have turned the reader's stomach more,but thankfully, he found a nice balance between giving us enough but not too much. Just because there is rape and assault doesn't mean every second has to be described in all of its violent, ugly glory. As for typos, if there were any, I didn't notice them.
So pick up Castles. It is a well written tale designed to make you feel uncomfortable. And isn't that what good horror is supposed to do?
Bradley Convissar- author of "Dogs of War"
(reviewed the day of purchase)