A man came out of a door in the mountain by Adrianne Harun

a man cameA nowhere town in British Columbia turns chaotic in the turn of a few days, thanks to a few mysterious visitors and their manipulations.

Five friends – Leo, Bryan, Jackie, Tessa, and Bryan’s sister Ursie – live the monotony of this nameless logging town.  High school is over for them, and their main entertainment is target practice at small vermin at the town dump.  Jobs are almost nonexistent – what’s available is tedious and low paying.  It’s also easy to get into the drug trap, as the local drug lord and his cohorts are glad to provide the libations – rotgut moonshine, meth, and pot – to anyone willing to pay the piper.

Jackie, the practical one in the group, is beguiled by a strange girl who joins the kitchen crew at the logging camp where she works.  Jackie brings her new friend along for their weekly gun shooting.  Needless to say, Hana Swann, as the girl calls herself,  has an effect on all of them, especially Bryan, Leo’s best friend, who has his own issues with the local drug dealers.  Hana sways Bryan into a course of action that creates some serious havoc.

Ursie, Bryan’s sister, is allured by another stranger – a card shark named Keven Seven, who is staying at the Peak and Pine, the dive of a motel where Ursie works.  He convinces her of latent talents with the deck, and Ursie is smitten with the intricacies of playing cards, not to mention her roguish teacher, who manages to be familiar and oddly unknown at the same time.

In the dry heat of summer, a forest fire erupts close by, and refugees from the logging camps pack it in at the Peak and Pine, bringing paychecks ready for gambling away in a card game.  With prodding by the sly Keven Seven, shy Ursie proves her mettle as a dealer, until things become crazy – but things already are crazy, and not just at the motel.

The devil comes to town and paints it red, to put it mildly.

This book renders the dead-end life of a small town poetically and sympathetically.  Largely told from Leo’s point of view, there are occasional asides that refer to stories his dying uncle relates to him that point to the misfortune waiting out there, somewhere (the tale of Snow Woman starting on page 75 is particularly creepy).  There’s a nice spooky mix of folklore and apocalyptic doom here, with some magical realism thrown in to rev things up.

(William Hicks, Information Services)

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