Welcome back to Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers.
Today, I'm bringing you a title that came to my attention via Wunderkind PR (Thanks, Carina and Taylan!). It's a work of Fiction (if you must get more particular, it leans more towards Fantasy) released a month ago today via Cinestate and I gotta say, it was truly a work to remember.
As I sit here typing this post, I'm fighting a cold that has taken a hold of my sinuses, turning them into Hermione Granger's bottomless purse (seriously, the tissues I'm going through could make a forest!), after a LONG BUTT WEEK at work (emphasis on the BUTT because it truly was heinous) filled with enough fires to put out that you'd think we were harboring the Devil Goat of Nagathraxis in the back room (book reference, I'll explain in a bit), and while all that crapioca sits in the forefront of my mind putting me in a less than stellar mood, I still can't help but picture little Hug in the background whispering "Don't be mean...". ~tear~sniff_grabs tissue_~ So, while I've ruminated on my experience between the pages, I think it's high time you meet this little guy. Ready or not, here comes the superstar of today's post....
The Panegyric of an Anomalous Child
S. Craig Zahler
About the book...
Hug Chickenpenny: The Panegyric of an Anomalous Child is a gothic, Dickensian take on the Elephant Man, as if David Lynch wrote a fable for unbalanced orphans.
Hug Chickenpenny is an anomalous child. Born from tragedy and unknown paternity, this asymmetrical and white-haired baby inspires both ire and pity at the orphanage, until the day that an elderly eccentric adopts him as a pet. The upbeat boy's spirit is challenged in his new home and as he is exposed to prejudiced members of society in various encounters. Will Hug and his astronautical dreams survive our cruel and judgmental world?
Okay, first things first, with a title like that, unless you've recently scanned a dictionary, a little defining is in order. I'm not ashamed to admit it, I broke one out too. What's the point in just WONDERING if you can KNOW? Am I right? Of course, I am....so let's break this thing down...
Panegyric: a public speech or published text in praise of someone or something
Anomalous: deviating from what is standard, normal, or expected
...so basically the title equates to Hug Chickenpenny: The Published Text in Praise of a Child that Deviates from What is Expected. Yeah, it's easy to see WHY the original won out, but again with the knowledge is power bit, it makes your decision to PICK IT UP for a read THAT much easier. Now, about that story...
This was such an addictive read! Odd, unusual, heartbreaking, and heart-mending, with every turn of the page you just don't know where you'll end up on the emotional spectrum, but you just can't put it down. There were characters to love (HUG! GEORGIE!), loathe (JENNIFER KIMBERLY! VLADIMIR!), believe in (ABIGAIL! SANDY!), trust (REX!), grow to understand (DR. HANNERSBY!), and then some. The circumstances in which we meet each tends to bend our initial opinion of them, but their true colors win out every time. There's no cloak and dagger with them; what they present is truly what they are...for better or worse. OMG, seriously, my feelings were raging as this story progressed. I couldn't believe how someone could treat poor little Hug the way he was and look at themselves in the mirror everyday! That Jennifer Kimberly...*grr*...was an abhorrent beast. The Grinch had more heart than her BEFORE it grew and grew and the dressing down you get was MORE than deserved! Georgie, I couldn't have respected you more, no matter why you ended up where you did, because you had heart, humanity, and showed nothing but love to a little boy that needed it oh so much. Abigail, all I can say is it took you long enough, but when you committed, you did so 100% and though things didn't always work out, you certainly tried and kept trying, and in the end, I could hug you for what you accomplished for our little man. Geesh! I'm only typing the review and I'm starting to tear up again. Hug is such a wonder, as are those that allow his simple touch to enrich their lives. That ending though, man it killed me.
While I adored it on the whole, it wasn't without points for improvement. For example, there are holes in the timeline as Hug ages. One chapter he's seven, the next he's nine, and the only reason we even KNOW that much time passed is the mention of his age. What happened during those years? Was it that everyday that it didn't need mentioning because honestly, I can't see anything Hug does being that mundane. He's such a wonderful little guy! Then there's the introduction of characters and situations that seem pretty significant, yet either don't go anywhere, or are over in a moment's time. Remember that Devil Goat I mentioned in the intro? Yeah, that's a character or rather critter that happens to reside at Dr. Hannersby's estate (well, temporarily at least... *-*) and while his history is rather bloody, he sort of POOFS in and POOFs out of the story...but if you look at the cover, he makes an appearance. Let's move to the situations or scenes...what about Hug's birth? The circumstances in which he was found were certainly noteworthy, but the WHY was never provided. Then we have the room found later on when Hug is exploring somewhere familiar and yet not (that'll make sense when you read it)...something DEFINITELY to speculate about but again, never explained in the least. I know my paragraph of "wants" is getting a bit lengthy here, but it's just that there was SO MUCH MORE I wanted to know. Perhaps it was the author's intent to let readers draw their own conclusions, but I was just so close to Hug that I wanted something more concrete to hold on to.
In the end, I ADORED THIS BOOK! It's unusual, strange, odd, but full of so much truth and heart that it hurts...no really, it does. That ending about tore my soul up. I was finishing it in a restaurant at the time with my parents, and just starting crying. Sure, I drew the attention of others, but did I care? Nope...not a bit. Those tears were for Hug and I regret not a one. So, if you like a bit of the beyond belief with your reality, grab this Fantasy Fiction title post haste...but be prepared for the feels, because you'll be all over the page and then some.
About the author...
S. Craig Zahler is an award-winning screenwriter, director, novelist, cinematographer, and musician. He wrote, directed, and co-composed the score for the breakout 2015 film Bone Tomahawk, starring Kurt Russell, which was nominated for two Independent Spirit Awards. Zahler most recently wrote and directed Brawl in Cell Block 99, starring Vince Vaughn, Jennifer Carpenter, and Don Johnson, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival and went on to critical acclaim from screenings at Toronto, Fantastic Fest, and many more festivals before being released in October 2017; and Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn star in Zahler’s gritty cop thriller Dragged Across Concrete, currently in post-production.
Zahler is also the author of several novels, including A Congregation of Jackals, nominated for both the Peacemaker and the Spur Awards; Mean Business on North Ganson Street; and Wraiths of the Broken Land, which 20th Century Fox recently announced will be a major motion picture with Ridley Scott directing. In addition to writing and directing, Zahler has founded and played in several bands, including Binary Reptile, a synthesizer project that provided the music for the audio drama movie, The Narrow Caves. He lives in New York City.
Special thanks to Carina and Taylan at Wunderkind PR for the chance to bring this title to you and to Cinestate for the ARC for review. (THANKS!) For more information on this title, the author, or those promotions on the horizon, feel free to click through the links provided above. This title is AVAILABLE NOW, so click on over to your favorite online retailer to snag your copy today! Also, make room on your calendar because it seems that Hug may be making his BIG SCREEN DEBUT someday!
"...With Deadline and Variety repo
rting that film rights for HUG CHICKENPENNY have already been snapped up by The Jim Henson Company (Dark Crystal, Labyrinth), which is coming on board to produce Zahler’s movie adaptation, this novel is sure to be on everyone’s radar. The designers at Jim Henson’s Creature Shop will work closely with Zahler to create and build the animatronic puppet versions of the titular character “Hug”. The team at Henson joins the producing team of Zahler, who will also direct, and Dallas Sonnier of Cinestate...."
Just give me the date and I'M SO THERE!
Until next time, remember...if it looks good, READ IT!