Dras has problems. He has no job, no money, no prospects, and no ambition. Plus, he just got gypped on a Snake Eyes G.I. Joe action figure.1
But the Strange Man is coming to town, and soon Dras will really have problems. When the bogeyman sets his sights on you and your best friend, it’s time to run. Or start praying.
It’s a tough choice, especially for someone who asks the video store clerk for advice on whether to rent She-Vampires from Mars or Garden Tool Massacre. (The clerk was no help at all. I would have advised, constructively, “Bambi.” But nobody asks me these things.) Dras is a screw-up little brother, and it’s a tall order to suddenly become a man of God when you’ve never even been a man.
The hero’s journey in this novel is to grow up, but it’s not really a coming-of-age story. It’s more like a shaping-up story. I have to say I admire Dras as a character, and even more as a hero. Bogeymen are easy to find, and goblins are a dime a dozen. A twenty-two-year-old protagonist with the obsessions – and mode of transportation – of a twelve-year-old is more unique.
Dras brings much of the book’s freshness. He also brings much of its humor. Humor is one of The Strange Man’s best points.
And believe me, The Strange Man needs all the lightening up it can get. There was too much violence for my liking, and occasionally the creepiness went too far. I’m all for the hero pedaling for his life from a horde of gremlins, but I draw the line at mind-controlling little girls, and Eldon Granger’s fate was unnecessary. The author would do well to ratchet back such factors.
He would also do well to more strictly maintain the viewpoint of his scenes. The style of the book is limited third-person, but there are times when it lapses. It’s not as limited as it ought to be. There are scenes that would be smoother, and ultimately more effective, if they were kept entirely to one character’s perspective.
All this notwithstanding, The Strange Man is a good book. Its religious element is strong and more profound than I first guessed. The pace is brisk. The ending was unexpected, and it had meaning and depth of emotion. Between that, and Dras, and the humor – this is the highlight reel – I enjoyed The Strange Man.