Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Book Review: Hug Chickenpenny: The Panegyric of an Anomalous Child by S. Craig Zahler

Media Type: Print Book (ARC)
Title: Hug Chickenpenny: The Panegyric of an Anomalous Child
Author: S. Craig Zahler
Publisher: Cinestate
Pages: Paperback; 264
Release Date: January 23, 2018
Source: Publisher
Content Screening: Mild Violence

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy coming of age stories that are a little bit on the quirky side, but full of heart!

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
"S. Craig Zahler is certain to become one of the great imaginers of our time." ― Clive Barker

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?

S. Craig Zahler is an award-winning screenwriter, director, novelist, cinematographer, and musician. He wrote and directed the films Bone Tomahawk and Brawl in Cell Block 99, and is the author of several novels, including Wraiths of the Broken Land, A Congregation of Jackals, and Mean Business on North Ganson Street.

Where to begin with this book? Hug Chickenpenny: The Panegyric of an Anomalous Child is unlike anything that I've read before. It's a coming of age story, but with a fantasy bent that makes it completely unique. I can promise that whatever you think you're going to find in these pages you're, at most, only about half right. If you've seen Bone Tomahawk, you might have a general idea about the brilliant oddness that Zahler can create. Just go into this book with an open mind, and prepare yourself for an anomalous journey.

As a character, Hug Chickenpenny wins the award for the quickest I've ever grown attached to anyone. From the moment of Hug's unusual entry into the world, the reader is shown how much he has stacked against him. See, Hug isn't exactly a "normal" child. In the broadest sense of the word, he's quite different. Which of course then sets the stage for his rather rough, and equally intriguing, childhood. Hug's ability to see the good in people and situations, that I would be railing madly at, is really what endeared him to me. No matter how dark things became, Hug was always a ray of light and that is really the most beautiful part of this book.

In terms of plot, there's not a lot that I can say without spoiling things so I'll tread carefully. To say that Hug's story is interesting is actually somewhat of an understatement. Hug probably goes through more in the duration of this book than most of us do in a lifetime. Poor thing. I loved the characters that S. Craig Zahler brought into his path, and especially appreciated those who could see past Hug's outer "otherness". However the book started to lose me somewhere around the mid-point, when it strayed too far into the fantasy aspect of everything. I liken it to following a steady trail of breadcrumbs into a forest, only to find halfway through that it had been entirely eaten by birds. I was left wandering towards the ending, which then came rushing up too quickly. I almost felt a bit cheated overall. Especially because, in the vein of Lemony Snickett, so many sad things had happened so close together at the end. I lacked closure, and that wasn't something I enjoyed.

So, for a wholly unique plot and a character that I fell head over heels for, this book gets a solid three star rating. It's definitely outside of most of what I've read, and I adored it for that. I do warn you though, this isn't the happiest of stories. Make sure you have some tissues specifically for the ending, friends. You're going to need them.

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.


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