Cover Image: Hillbilly Epicurean

Hillbilly Epicurean

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Member Reviews

I started this book because I thought a book on conspiracy and fantasy fiction with humour would really be amazing. But I put it down half way, because the writing was not clear enough to get along with the plot so it fell flat. 
I wish the author best of luck. And I'm thankful to Netgalley and the publishing house for granting the request.
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Alas, this one was not my cup of tea. I am usually all over anything for bibliophiles, portals, urban fantasy, book jumping, but this one just fell flat. It was like it cast a spell so whenever I would put it down, I would immediately forget about it and only remember it when I picked it up again. I didn't like the writing - too meandering and unpolished.

So don't read this review. Go read others that enjoyed it and have nice things to say. This book does have an audience, it just wasn't me.

Thank you to Netgalley and Burns & Lea Books for the ARC.
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Slacker Denver Crawley's Washington D.C.  life is changed when his military father finds him a government job at a little known backwater agency in Tennessee, Called the Chimerical Research Division. After finally locating and getting settled into his tiny cluttered office along with the long time agent Avery, Denver finds his job consists mostly of reading books, magazines, newspapers etc looking for patterns and connections to real world supernatural events. Denver indeed finds a lead and gets permission to follow it up with a mysterious man named Dr. Eric Drummond Smith, His Demon, and the collection of characters he knows as they unravel the mysteries that could lead to a parallel universe. 

      At different times I flashed on various other things Ive read while I was reading this. When Stanislaw Lem's Memoirs Found in a Bathtub popped in my head I worried. I caught myself at various times thinking of American Gods, X-Files, and One of our Thursdays is Missing. While I appreciate the story that Smith was trying to tell, and the obvious passion he had for the material, I still struggled with the actual book.
      There were many times where I felt I was reading in circles and just chasing my tail. Like we were going from one place to another to another without much purpose. I struggled pushing through occasionally and felt there needed another rewrite or a stronger editor. In fact I would read a sentence and feel like I missed something, like maybe the author had so many ideas he wanted to get down on paper that he had forgotten to fill us in on something...I know Ive done that too. And By the end I wasn't over invested in what happened so it kinda just fell a little flat for me.
      The Author has some cool ideas and an obvious passion for what he's doing and that bodes very well for his future but I just didn't feel like I was in this story with the characters and more just told a long story. I'd like to see what he does in the future though because that kind of enthusiasm should be rewarded,
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Well, that was different (in a mostly good way)! Hillbilly Epicurean is set in a bizarre governmental agency, the Chimerical Research Division. The Division looks for anomalous occurrences in reading materials both non-fiction and fictional.

Denver, an entitled rich boy, is forced to work for the Division by his father or risk losing all financial help. It’s a tedious and boring job until he investigates what his predecessor was reviewing before his death. What connects an ancient Libya keystone hiding a key to an apparently unopenable centuries old box in Kansas?

The plot of Hillbilly Epicurean is fascinating and like nothing else I’ve read. It’s fantastic! However, the book itself has some major issues. First, it is overlong due to an exhaustive description of every setting. While that did make the locations form clearly in my mind’s eye, it also diverted me from the plot. Another issue was the characters, even the main protagonist, Denver, were paper-thin. I had no idea what their real motivations, hopes and dreams were for at least half the book.

Is it worth reading the book for the plot alone? Yes, I think so. But think how much greater it would be without these issues that can probably be solved by some quick editing. Therefore, as written, this book receives a strong 4 stars.

Thanks to Burns & Lea Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
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Part conspiracy novel, part humorous literary fantasy adventure.  Denver Crawley is forced by his father to take up a position in the Chimerical Research Division, where his only duties appear to be to read and spot any unexplained events. Picking up on something his now presumed deceased predecessor was working on, Denver is led to the mysterious Dr Eric Drummond Smith and his invisible companion, The Bee. 
This is a fun book which following the midway point moves at breakneck speed as our three protagonists come face to face with classic fantasy characters as our world and the world of stories begin to collide. There are some poignant moments and I felt there is a novel in itself about the relationship between Dr Smith and The Bee. 
It's an enjoyable book and hopefully, J Norwood Smith will carry on writing in this world, expanding on his current creation.
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