This review was originally posted at West of Mars. It is being posted here, at its new permanent home.

It’s been so long now that I can’t even remember how I came to pick up a copy of Joseph Garraty’s Voice. I can see that I got it at Smashwords, where it was listed as free as of the night I finished the book and sat down to write this rave.

And rave I must. I simply adored this story of a man who sells … well, maybe not his soul and maybe not to the devil, but that’s only the first of many riffs on the classic cliché. John does go down to the crossroads, but the trade he makes is great, unexpected fun that gives a clever nod to current—okay, maybe by this point, a bit passé—trends in literature. Saying more would spoil the read, and I have no intentions of spoiling anything. This is a book to share, not ruin.

As John’s bargain pays off both in a set of golden pipes and a decline as a man, his guitar player, the harsh, abrasive Case, is molting her own skin—in the opposite direction. Case learns how to be a friend, to take a chance, to allow herself to care. As John loses his humanity, Case finds hers.

While some may point to John and his alter ego Johnny as the heartbeat of the story, for me it was Case. I related to her.

Don’t forget, though, the other two members of the band: Quentin and Danny. Quentin’s the conscience around here, and, of course, whenever evil’s afoot, the conscience must pay. The way in which this happens is a bit … unorthodox, shall we say. Danny, though, flirts with the dark side. There’s betrayal, and a steep price for him, also. Too bad; Danny and Quentin both are likeable.

So, too, is Erin, Case’s friend who becomes the band’s one-woman PR maestro. She’s maybe too good to be true, but she’s also smart enough to make the hard but brave decisions.

As Ragman puts all these elements together—John’s new voice, the small hurricane that is Case on guitars, and Erin packing the clubs—and success follows, each of the five must figure out what price they are willing to pay for it all. They’re paying all right, and it’s a bill that comes due long before many of the clichéd Rock Fiction works would have you believe: not when they are headliners, but when they are paying their dues on the way up.

That’s how it usually works, after all, and Garraty shows it to us. Maybe it’s a bit exaggerated. But then again, is it?

A definite West of Mars Recommended Read.

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Comments
  1. […] the club scene, and/or had a horror bend to ‘em. Dave Butler’s Hellhound on my Trail. Voice, definitely. Even some Ladies and Gentlemen… the Redeemers or The Road to Fluffer. And of […]

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