This is a non-spoiler review because of all the sensitive ‘why did you ruin that plot twist for me’ whiners. This is also a short review because the book is very short, and I have other places to be. Demons to conjur – you know, my usual activities.
‘Daisy would rather survive on minimum wage (plus tips) at her waitressing job in the local diner – after all, it’s only until ‘the others’ arrive – but she will service truckers if she has to; when she’s short of cash and needs to eat. Normally she’s okay just bumping along, waiting out her time and drinking beer in her trailer – but when her TV dies and she can no longer watch her beloved soap operas, she decides it’s time to join the other ‘lot lizards’ and earn some extra dollars. Watch out, though, guys… Daisy is not your typical call-girl.’
BLOWN is the third in Baldwin’s “Strange Shorts” series, described as ‘A Dark Comedy Short Story for Grown-Ups’. And indeed, that’s exactly what it is. If you’ve read my review of the other Strange Shorts, you’ll know I’m a big fan. I probably went into BLOWN with too-high expectations, but I was on the Adrian Baldwin hype-train. I don’t normally use railways but choo-choo motherf***ers.
I was reading this and for the most part I thought it was fine. The characters are well-realised, even minor ones that barely feature, and I was engaged, but I felt like it was lacking something. I didn’t hit a point of boredom at all, but I was afraid I was going to. I thought maybe that I’d finally hit a dud in Adrian Baldwin’s work. I thought ‘oh goody, that means I can write a mean-spirited rant review and then butt this book off a cliff’, because complaining and butting things off cliffs are two of my favourite hobbies. And then Daisy’s – the main character – TV breaks and she goes out.
Oh, my dear sweet Dark Lord, did I not foresee what was coming. I went in expecting some madness that didn’t immediately appear, then crossed over into ‘well, the twist is still coming then’, and then moved out of that into ‘oh… I think this might just be a generic story, actually’. I was still enjoying it but with a sinking feeling that ultimately, I’d be disappointed. The story is pretty normal, nothing to see here folks, and then all of a sudden you’re like OH. OH DEAR. And then a few pages on from that you’re like…. OH. OH FOR ALL THAT IS UNHOLY. And then the ending just obliterates the apparent normalcy of what you thought was being set up, and it does it in a way that not only opens the story up but the entire universe it’s set in.
Of the three Strange Shorts, this is still my least favourite – but PIED! and EGOR’S EMPORIUM, in my completely correct opinion, are exceptional short stories and both are tough acts to follow. BLOWN lands somewhere on the ‘brilliant’ scale for me, because of the direction it took, and as always with Baldwin, I enjoyed the writing.
You know, Adrian Baldwin is really starting to bug me. I haven’t got to indulge in tearing apart a single one of his books so far, and that’s a delightful hobby of mine. Instead, he’s been inflicting… enjoyment … on me. ON ME.
I’d recommend this to people who enjoy weird, dark stories with black humour. Think Joe Hill crossed with Matt Shaw, and this is the sort of territory you’ll find BLOWN in.
If you’d like to get yourself a copy of BLOWN, you can find it here:
If you’d like to learn more about Adrian Balwdin, you can visit his website here:
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