Scarecrow Has a Gun
by Michael Paul Kozlowsky
Narrated by David Doersch
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Pub Date 02 Aug 2022 | Archive Date Not set
Never trust other people’s memories, and watch out for your own
Although we’ve all seen The Wizard of Oz, few of us recall that the Scarecrow is holding a gun in the haunted forest. Strange it may seem, but this sort of thing happens all the time. Something jarring—something right in front of our faces—escapes our memory altogether, no matter how many times we witnessed it.
This new novel is the story of a man’s ongoing struggle with tormenting lacunae in his own memory. Tortured by his inability to remember details of his wife’s murder—even though he was an eye witness—Sean Whittlesea pins hopes on a high-tech device purportedly able to provide him with accurate access to every detail of his past.
A haunting question emerges through Sean’s quest for answers. Are we the masters of our memories, or are we their helpless pawns?
“The coherent self is a fiction: a fairytale we tell ourselves about ourselves. A host of technologies exists to reassure us otherwise—novels, to be fair, among them—and each, like an invited demon, ultimately behaves according to its own proclivities. Michael Paul Kozlowsky is admirably wary of these enticements, and has put that uneasiness at the heart of this book. Suffused with an atmosphere that suggests J.G. Ballard and Paolo Coelho chained together in a basement while a carbon monoxide alarm goes off, Scarecrow Has a Gun is at once disquieting and illuminating, eerie and sincere.”—Martin Seay, award-winning author of The Mirror Thief
“An intriguing, existential mystery, an exploration of an unhappy marriage, and a paranoid science fiction thriller. Scarecrow Has a Gun is positively Neapolitan!”—Nick Mamatas, author of The Second Shooter
“Michael Paul Kozlowsky’s brutally eccentric Scarecrow Has a Gun is a masterclass in Cartesian storytelling—simultaneously evoking Christopher Nolan’s clockwork precision and JG Ballard’s ultra-modern sense of irony, Kozlowsky has bestowed upon our cultural landscape a Rashomon for our Post-Truth, Mandela Effect-ed times.”—Jeff Chon, author of Hashtag Good Guy With a Gun
"With writing that’s both sharp and dense, Michael Paul Kozlowsky’s Scarecrow Has A Gun is a labyrinthine mystery that feels as if David Cronenberg and Don DeLillo had collaborated on a Philip K. Dick adaptation. It’s a gut-punch meditation on the way our brains process mediation, memory, trauma, and grief."—Tex Gresham, author of Sunflower, Heck, Texas, and This Is Strange June
Average rating from 77 members
I received this book from Netgalley as an ARC Audiobook. I gave this book 4 stars, as my overall impression of the book was positive. Let’s start with the cover. My first impression, having not read the synopsis of the book, was that the book was a mystery / thriller starring a detective. I was under this impression due to the title “Scarecrow Has a Gun.” I was not correct in the slightest. The title is actually an obscure reference to the fact that in the movie Wizard of Oz, the Scarecrow at some point in the film has a pistol, but that nobody seems to remember this fact. This reference is so obscure, that until the author made reference to it in the last 25% of the book, I had no idea. And even when the character in the book explained this reference, I am still not 100% sure I understand it in the context of the book — maybe that memories are not what they seem? That reality is not what we remember? I wasn’t too impressed either with the cover image itself. I think it is supposed to be a picture of the memory palace, but when I compare it to the cover of e.g. Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King, which is another book about a mysterious box, then the cover of Scarecrow Has a Gun seems rather dark and does not draw the eye. Based upon the cover, I’m not sure I would have picked it up at the bookstore.
Regardless, of my initial impression of the cover and title, I have to say that I really enjoyed the book overall. We meet Sean Whittlesea as he is competing for a prize in his boss’s “widowers club.” Essentially, this is a invitation only exclusive club which is only open to widowers. Every so often (and at random intervals) the widowers compete in a contest to win an undisclosed prize. After several attempts, Sean finally wins. His prize: the memory palace. The memory palace is a box that when plugged into your brain, shows you past memories. Upon seeing such memories, Sean is convinced that there is something wrong with the box because nothing is as he had previously remembered it. Unfortunately, it is all too real and what the box reveals about his wife’s death will alter his life forever.
I really liked the premise of the book: memories are not what they seem. What we actually remember is only an illusion. It made me think whether there are certain memories of mine that are incorrect, or that I am not remembering correctly. Did I really see my grandfather being driven away in an ambulance when I was four? Or is this a memory I have reconstructed from stories told by my parents?
Although this book purports to be science fiction, I didn’t really see any elements of that. To me it would have been better classified as a “mystery” or even a “thriller”. I mainly listened to this book while feeding my 6 month old baby or going for walks, cleaning the house, etc. It is an easy read and doesn’t require too much concentration. It is a great story to pass the time. The story is engaging and I definitely did not see the twist at the end coming. However, the ending left me a little unsatisfied. It seemed a bit rushed. I would have liked to have it drawn out more. It’s like we waited the entire book to find out what happened, and then in one or two scenes everything is explained and then its over.
The most interesting part of the book for me was actually the widowers club, and how the person running this club (Sean’s boss) was essentially “creating” better people so that they could benefit the company. It reminds me of certain cults. I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t more regarding the widowers club in the book. I would be interested to read more books in a series about the widowers club. I wonder if the author has this in mind, or if this book was just a one off.
This book will be published in August 2022. I would definitely recommend adding it to your TBR list.
I read and enjoyed the nonfiction " Remember; The Science of Memory and the Art of Forgetting" by author, Lisa Genova. Ms. Genova is a neuroscientist, earned her undergraduate degree from Bates College in biopsychology and holds a PhD in neuroscience from Harvard. Hmmm ~ Impressive ~ Right?
I was rather sure that this sci-fi story wasn’t going to deal a lot into science but it had me curious.
It does have a bit of a subtitle
Never trust other people’s memories, and watch out for your own.
Story deals with the lies we tell… even to ourselves.
Our narrator is trying to deal with his past and the truth of the ‘Widower’s Club’.
Although I was curious, I soon found I wasn’t sure this was going to work for me. I hung in there and glad I did.
Want to thank NetGalley and Imbrifex Audio for this audio eGalley. This file has been made available to me before publication in an early form for an honest professional review.
Publishing Release Date scheduled for August 2, 2022.
What you think you remember is it reality or is your minds eye playing tricks on you. This book made me question reality of what I think I remember especially in dreams. I really enjoyed the book it really made you really think. One of the things that kept popping into my brain throughout the book is when police go out and interview people who witness a crime and a lot of times its hard to get accurate information. What people remember what they saw can be different from one person to another when they both witnessed the same thing.
The main character Sean enters into a contest to win a box that will show him his memory. He wants to win because he wants to remember how his wife was murdered. This is a mystery to him until this contest. Sean is remarried at this point and the story takes him down a path that may not bode well for him with his memories.
It was a quick read and I really enjoyed it for it made me think about my own thoughts and memories. I would recommend the book. The narrator was fantastic.
Thank you Netgalley for the advance audiobook copy of Scarecrow has a Gun by Michael Paul Kozlowsky in exchange for an honest review. This was a really interesting book. It's amazing how much of our identity is tied to our memories, and they are not always accurate. How I remember a past event is different than my sister or someone else, even though we were both there. Our experiences and therefore memories are different and shape us differently. But what if you could watch past events without the skew of our perspective? Would it change who you are and how you behave? This book delves into that and got me thinking a lot about my memories. Very interesting.
Thank you NetGalley for the advance audiobook copy of Scarecrow Has a Gun by Michael Paul Kozlowsky in exchange for an honest review.
I found this book to be very interesting and very intriguing.
Sean tragically lost his wife to a home invasion that he can't seem to remember at all. Sean is later invited to the Widowers Club by his rich boss. In the Widowers Club there are several challenges, some simple and some deadly to compete for mystery prices. Years later Sean is moving on with his life, he has a fiance and daughter when he suddenly wins one the the competitions and wins a mysterious memory box. With this box he can see all his memories. He becomes completely obsessed with this box and spends all of his time replaying his life and losing sight of the life that he has. One day he finally replays the memory of his wives murder and is shocked to see what actually occurred.
I am not typically into SIFI type books but I enjoyed the premise of this book,
Scarecrow has a gun by Michael Paul Kozlowsky.
Narrated by David Doersch.
Never trust other people's memories, and watch out for your own.Sean Whittlesea was there when his wife was murdered. He saw the light leave her eyes. He held her dead body in his arms. He knows he wept, but he cannot recollect a single other detail. Tormented by the tragedy, Sean relives the horror over and over again. As he struggles to recall what really happened, his imagination serves up an endless chain of scenarios. The truth, however, remains hidden in the vault of his memory, and the key is nowhere to be found. Nearly two decades later, Sean, now remarried and a father of two, wins a bizarre contest hosted by his eccentric boss. The prize is the Memory Palace, a state-of-the-art black box that purportedly allows its possessor to relive every moment he has ever experienced, playing out all the memories on a screen.While the small machine at first appears to be the answer to the mystery surrounding the death of his wife, it instead upends Sean’s life. He pushes his family further and further away as the Memory Palace forces him to confront harsh realities and difficult questions that he lacks the strength to face or answer. Spiraling downward, Sean encounters increasingly harrowing challenges that force him to realize that his memory is not the only thing at stake. To recover the truth about his past, Sean must fight for his very life.
This was a good audiobook. I liked the Narrator. Great story and characters. Different. 4*.
This was a solid read. The Mystery side of the story as well as the Sci Fi side of the story could both have been examined deeper but the definitive highlight foe me was the philosophical debate about memory and its importance in shaping out existence. This book pairs extremely well with another book I have recently finished titled “Tell Me An Ending” by Jo Harkin which also takes a deep dive into the role memory has on a someones entire personality and overall being and asks how a person would change if certain memories were deleted from their mind. Reading both of these novels within a few days from each other has been fascinating. I recommend this for any sci fi or mystery fans out there.
Thanks to Netgalley and Imbrifex Books who sent me an ARC audiobook of this book in exchange for my honest review.
"A copy of a copy of a copy" - isn't this how the series of all the memories start with?
For eg: As a child, we see the first perspective of what eyes are by looking into a mother's eyes. All the eyes that follow (other humans, animals, teddy bears) are merely correlated with the 1st memory - in transit creating more versions of the 1st one.
The book has an interesting perspective of Sci-Fi upon our memories and the lives we live. It will make you question what's real & what's not? In our past did things actually happen the way we remember it today? OR is it just a narrative that we were told over n over again - until it felt like an actual truth?
I am glad I was patient with this book & did not DNF it. I was about to: because the 1st half of the book was too slow-paced with me & nothing was really making sense.
This could probably be one of my few books with divided ratings:
Character development: 3/5
Reading experience: 2.5/5
Audiobook received for free through NetGalley
This book was a bit dark but once I got into it it was hard to put down. Interesting perspective and I’m so glad I listened to it.
Thanks to NetGalley and Imbrifex Books for sending me an ARC Audiobook of Scarecrow Has a Gun in exchange for an honest review.
The plot of Scarecrow Has a Gun is very straightforward. Sean Whittlesea is a widower whose wife was murdered so brutally that he has never been able to remember the details or help the police find the killer. Many years later, he’s remarried and has a family, but he is still haunted by the event. One day, Sean’s boss Mr. Ulger gives Sean a box he calls a Memory Palace, a futuristic device that shows can show a person all of their memories fully intact to the last detail. But the box shows seemingly random memories, not the ones Sean wants to watch, and some of the memories shown are not how Sean remembers them happening, leaving Sean asking some deep questions about who he really is.
There were elements of Scarecrow Has a Gun that I quite liked. Sean’s boss Mr. Ulger, and his Widowers Club, were appropriately mysterious and unsettling. I’m always here for some good Mandela Effect/false memory conversations. Why does no one remember that there’s a brief scene in The Wizard of Oz where the Scarecrow holds a revolver? Is it just because it’s so illogical that people blocked it out? I mean, that movie scared me so much when I was young that I still refuse to watch it, but what’s everyone else’s excuse for forgetting? Best of all, the discussions about the malleability of memory were interesting and sometimes creepy. People do often choose which moments to focus on, and thus which stick in our memories and which are lost. We choose which moments to change our behavior based upon and which to ignore. And we even subtly shape our memories over time, minimizing some parts (often when we are the villain) and exaggerating others (often when we are either the hero or the victim), all to the effect of building our own narrative of who we think we are.
That said, Scarecrow Has a Gun has some flaws. The middle portion is a bit repetitive as Sean watches many memories without really moving the story forward. More critically, having one piece of future tech in an otherwise set-in-the-present novel makes for an interesting what-if story or way to view our current world. Having more than one makes it much harder for the reader to suspend their disbelief. Worse, these other pieces of future tech—that come in a late reveal—are vital to the plot’s resolution.
Finally, a word about the narrator, David Doersch, who I thought did a very good job. There’s a darkness—a noir element—to Scarecrow Has a Gun, and his voice really captured it. I especially enjoyed his portrayal of Mr. Ulger, and his hideous cackling laugh for Josie may have hurt my brain, but it was perfect for the way she’s written.
At its core, Scarecrow Has a Gun is really just a mash-up of two other stories (one of which is actually referenced in the novel when it takes that turn) that I can’t name without spoiling the story. And the concepts and ideas discussed along the way were probably a bit more memorable (pun intended) than the actual plot. Still, I enjoyed the ride. 3.5 stars rounded up to 4.
"To remember is a creative act."
Our memories are deeply flawed, Our memories are flawed both individually and communally. We share so many false memories that the phenomenon has come to be referred to colloquially as the Mandela Effect - based on a shared false belief shared by millions that the South African President died in prison in the 1980s. A great many of us remember great movie lines like: "Luke, I am your father;" "Play it again, Sam;" "Life is like a box of chocolates;" "Mirror, mirror on the wall;" and "Hello, Clarice" that which were simply never uttered in the films we recall them from.
In this intriguing and well-narrated tale, we meet a man who is offered the gift, or curse, of real memory, true memory, actual memory. Life as it was lived, not as remembered. Something our protagonist desires, having lost his recall surrounding the events of the death of his first wife to foul play. Could this be the key to unlocking the mystery of her death? Could this be the answer to his disconnect with his son. Could this doom his relationship with his current wife and daughter?
The answers to these questions make for an intriguing mystery with some slightly horrifying undertones, but what made this a book I couldn't stop listening to was the concept of memory and how it shades our lives. How every new experience after our infancy is shaded by our memories, memories which are inherently flawed. I was left wondering if my life was better or worse than I remember. Or was it just different? Is it more or less impactful that the queen in Snow White talks to the magic mirror on the wall?
I hate spoilers, I hate reviews with spoilers, and it's difficult to say more about the story without getting into them, so I'll address other aspects of the book. The writing is brisk and easy to follow. Nothing here that needn't be and, yet, nothing missing -- a rare feat, in my opinion. The characters were real. The protagonist was likeable. His motivations clear, understandable, relatable. He was clever, but not overmuch. The villain was vile, but not so vile as not to be believable. The tech seemed plausible with only a slight suspension of disbelief. The audio was reasonably well-produced with only minor fluctuations in volume. The narration was excellent. The narrator served the role of the protagonist rather than versatile voice actor giving life to each character, which was appropriate to the story.
The story gets a 5/5, the writing gets a 5/5, and the narration gets a 5/5. I loved every minute of it.
Scarecrow Has a Gun was off the chain! I stop and had to look this author up in hopes of discovering more about how he writes. I had only children books that held no answers.
So how do I begin…… At first I was wondering why it started the way it did and tried to track this support group. And then it was was was I guess some intense insight to a person view. It touched on many things and I couldn’t figure out where it was going.
I want to point out by this time I was settled in and was interested. It’s a look at behavior and memory in a nut shell and we’re strapped in a roller coaster that flings you up side down.
If you’re patient it will all makes sense. Somewhat….. It’s a crazy story. I chose to listen to this book on audio and David Doersch narrated it. He did a suitable job.
Thanks Embrifex Audio via NetGalley.
I’ll be posting on FB, Instagram, Goodreads and Amazon
Scarecrow Has a Gun is a novel about Sean Whittlesea, a man who is part of a widow's club at work because of the loss of his wife. This inner circle gets a benefit from the boss, in the form of a contest that is held at regular intervals. When Sean finally gets his reward, will it be all that he dreamed of or will it destroy his life?
The idea behind this book is more interesting than the novel itself. Are the memories stored in our consciousness real or have they been manipulated? Sean drives himself crazy trying to figure out if the memories are real, with a narration that increasingly becomes the rantings of a paranoid man. David Doersch does a good job of portraying Sean, giving voice to a man who ends up not trusting anyone or anything.
Too much of the story was cribbed from other recognizable forms. I could see where the author was heading and was disappointed as a result. I liked the idea of the novel, but was less interested in where the book ultimately ended up. The audio version of the book was well done and the only reason why I finished the novel. For these reasons, I would be hesitant to recommend Scarecrow Has a Gun to other readers.
Disclaimer: I was given an Advanced Audio Copy by NetGalley and the publisher, Imbrifex Audio. The decision to read and review this novel was entirely my own.
Thank you to NetGalley for the audiobook for review!
This book caught my eye because of the synopsis that made it sound like a mystery/sci-fi built on the fallibility of memory and the Manela Effect that we all experience. What I ended up getting was all of that and then some.
Scarecrow Has a Gun felt reminiscent of a Blake Crouch novel. With the personal, in the head of our protagonist writing style and an ominous, mysterious vibe that flowed through it all. This is a good thing since I really enjoy the books of Blake Crouch , such as Dark Matter and the Wayward Pines trilogy. The sci-fi elements are muted, limited mostly to the somewhat futuristic technology provided by the ominous Mr. Ulger. This story really is more of a mystery/thriller that uses memory and grief as its key drivers. The pacing is pretty quick which aids with keeping the reader engaged throughout.
I was not a huge fan of the various characters that we are presented with. Most are pretty unlikeable overall, but I think this was largely by design. It helped add to the dark feel of the story but unfortunately, it made them hard to cheer for. The narration was solid if unspectacular. It got the job done and the narrator coneyed the tone of the book well by how he read it.
Overall, I give it 4 stars. I really wanted to get back to it each time I stopped listening and that'a sign of a good read in my book.
Thanks # netgallery for this book in exchange for an honest review. This book has stayed with me well after I finished. The concept of this book was new and refreshing. I highly recommend.
Thank you to Netgalley for an advanced copy of this book.
I loved this book from the beginning. Sean wins a game hosted by his boss. He wins a black box that allows him to see all of his memories. Would you? This is where the book takes a really awesome turn. It bounces between Sean’s memories and the present-day. I love the psychological perspective of the inaccuracies of our memories.
I was thrown for a loop by the ending in a good way. This was well presented in audio format and I can see enjoying this in print or audio.
"Only in hell are the memories real."
This book actually triggered my thinking process and made me rethink of all the things i thought i knew very accurately. This is a true masterpiece. i loved this one so much. Scarecrow Has A Gun is packed with intrigue and philosophical exploration, diving into the differences between truth and memory. It poses questions like ‘how much does the past shape us?’ Or ‘what if you discovered your past wasn’t what you thought?’ And the answers come in the form of a little black box.
About half book into, i was not able to relate the tittle of the book to the plot, and then it hit me, and it hit so hard that i almost skipped a heart beat. For someone like me, who reads thrillers all the time, it is easy for me to predict the climax. But this one, oh my god, totally unpredictable and i did not see that coming at all.
The prose is clean and easy to read. It’s introspective, delving into the minutiae of life. Descriptions linger in the details, but deliberately so, as this feeds into the book’s questions. It succeeds in making you feel like you’re living through things along with Sean, and actually adds a layer of depth here that would be missing otherwise.
I am very thankful to the author, the publisher and netgallery for the advanced copy. This one is a highly recommend by me. i would definitely like to read future books. Thankyou.
What a wild, weird read. This sucked me in right away but I ended up feeling like I was missing a lot of answers by the time I was done. I'd definitely read more by this author, but this one didn't fully connect for me.
Character Building: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Thank you Netgalley and Imbrifex Audio For the opportunity to listen to this audiobook arc.
Sean Whittlesea was there when his wife was murdered. He saw the light leave her eyes. He held her dead body in his arms.He knows he wept, but he cannot recollect a single other detail. Tormented by the tragedy, Sean relives the horror over and over again. As he struggles to recall what really happened, his imagination serves up an endless chain of scenarios. The truth, however, remains hidden in the vault of his memory, and the key is nowhere to be found.
The narration was really good, it captured my attention and the voices was really good.
You are taken on a journey with Sean as he watches his memories using the black box device. I got serious Stephen King vibes around the idea of this book. I loved how he tried to help Nick through his grief showing him memories of his mom and how Nick showed courage in standing up for the right thing.
A very enjoyable book that will show you to cherish you memories and those around you.
Thanks to NetGalley for the audiobook ARC!
Scarecrow Has a Gun is an interesting novel that explores the idea that our memories, even collective memories, are very fallible. The plot centers around a group of widowers who regularly vie for special attention and projects from their billionaire boss. But at what cost? An interesting premise, and well-written. I especially enjoyed the ending.
The story line was captivating but I didn't enjoy all the flash backs and didn't think they were all relevant to the storyline. Definitely a depressing read in many ways. Not as captivating from the start as it could have been.
The audiobook was also just difficult to listen to on this forum. I did really enjoy the narrator though!
An interesting concept. The protagonist Sean Whittlesea is competing to join his bosses bizarre group - The Widowers Club, those who are successful rise to fame and fortune.
When he finally passes the first test he is gifted a black box of his memories; The Memory Palace which he can plug into and watch as often as he wants. He uses this to try and solve his wife’s murder, but the more he watches, the more he realises his own memories are not all accurate and he begins to question everything.
The idea is thought provoking, how fallible are all of our memories? and aren’t they what makes us … us.
A good concept but it didn’t necessarily grip me, I’m not sure why, a great twist at the end though.
Wasnt sure about this one mid-way through as its quite a slow burn, but the ending pulled through. This was a lot more ambitious than a standard mystery/thriller, probably for readers looking to branch out into more experimental reads
Good story with a little science fiction
This kept my attention right from the start. I listened to the audio of this while working on a project and it was good enough that when I missed a section due to having to concentrate on the project I went back and repeated it. I seldom do that.
It reminded me a little of something Stephen King would write. The prose wasn’t quite as good as a King novel, but the plot was excellent. I loved the ending.
It did make me think about our memories @nd how accurate they really are.
I enjoyed this very much. I may read the e-copy once it is released.
Our memories define our lives. It’s through memories that we see ourselves and understand the world. What would happen if we had a chance to replay our true memories to see what actually happened at any given situation? What if the memories we watched were different than the memories we told ourselves? This is precisely what happens to Sean. Through his employment, he is given an opportunity to go back in time and record his memories. Sean’s first wife was murdered and although he was there when it happened, he can’t remember anything. The murderer was never found. Sean is eager to try out the memory box with hopes of drawing out his memories from that fateful evening.
This sci fi thriller had a ton of promise! This incredibly intriguing premise drew me in immediately. The mind blowing concept of having your life rewritten by watching old memories was one I was eager to read about. There were moments of brilliance but I wish they had been carved out more. More depth in characters and the sci fi plot were needed. . I thought the beginning was well executed. However, as the plot progressed, it became less engaging to the point of ridiculous by the end. There was also something missing that resulted in a detached reading experience. I wanted to love this book but found it mediocre.
The audiobook narration was average.
I received an advanced audio copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
How much do you trust your memory?
Scarecrow Has a Gun by Michael Paul Kozlowski is a sci-fi trip that questions not just our own memory, but how much power can be wielded by the control of memory. I was captivated by this thought-provoking novel. David Doersch does a phenomenal job narrating this audio. I felt all the disquiet and desperation emerge from the character as the story unfolds.
Sean wins a bizarre contest by his boss and has access to a little black box called a Memory Palace that allows access to memories played out on screen. This is especially significant for Sean because there is a moment years ago that he can't remember...the death of his first wife in his arms. As he dives deeper into this little black box, his present is becoming skewed by his growing obsession of his past threatening his future with his new family and his career.
Again, this story made me contemplate what impact our memories have on who we think we are. This was a really crazy premise and the ending was superb. Especially enjoyed when the title phrase hit. The family dynamics were interesting and gave Sean a deeper humanity. I really liked this story, and it is a solid ⭐⭐⭐⭐ for me!
Thank you to @NetGalley and @imbrifexbooks for this digital ARC! If you enjoy a good suspensful sci-fi story that leaves you thinking, pre-order this August 2 release!
A compelling, quick read. I enjoyed the end very much - it was unexpected. It's an interesting take on an unreliable narrator (of sorts).
I had high hopes for the book, but, I could not find anything interesting in the book. The plot was driving recklessly. Also, the story could not correspond to its title. There was a scene in the story when the character mentions the title in reference to the scene, but, I was literally confused with that. Basically, I was not able to connect myself with the book. It felt like I was jumping from a particular scene to an entirely different scene altogether.
I could give only 3 stars to the book. Although, the book could have been very different. Thanks to Netgalley for providing me an opportunity to read and review the book.
I received a ARC of this book in exchange for my thoughts and review.
★★★★ 4 nothing is real stars!
“... Know this! Nothing is how we remember it.”
From the very moment this book opened with the Widower's Club and the mind games of Mr. Ulger I was hooked. My curiosity got the best of me and finished this in one sitting. I love a good misery, and even better I love a good emotionally-charged memory reliving.
Sean Whittlesea won his last Widower's Club game. It's no secret that every victor from the games seemed to have progressed in some way, either by company ranking or fame or fortune, they've come ahead of the rest. The reward was promise to be life-changing. Sean's is the Memory Palace, a cutting edge futuristic black box that allow its holder to relive every moment of his/her life by displaying all of his memories on a screen. He has now in his very hands the answers to the big mysteries in his life, but the more he get his answers the more he questions everything.
Scarecrow Has A Gun came off as unexpectedly smart and very insightful read. I had not expect the thought-provoking undertone this one has. More to the point, it really made me think and question myself about my own memories and recollections. While I do believe that human memories are not reliable, this still makes me wonder about the extent in which our memories can be tainted. I must say though, the lengthy monologues of some of the characters can come off preachy at times but it was well-received on my end.
Just a few points:
1. Hayley - I can't feel her. I feel so little love between Sean and Hayley;
2. the mystery wasn't too hard guess but still it was satisfying when everything unraveled;
3. what even is the point of the widower's club? it'll be interesting to know the rest of the victors, how they turned out and things this club made possible;
4. I need more of Auntie Josie the hippie.
I'm not the biggest sci-fi reader however I do have a soft spot for memory reliving, live-overs, and time-loops. There is something about those that makes me sentimental and emotional. Suffice to say this hit me heavily.
Thanks so much to Netgalley, Imbrifex Books, and Imbrifex Audio for the copy! I enjoyed this immensely. I was fortunate to be granted both the eARC and ALC so it's simultaneous reading and listening for me! Eh, that's just how I roll, lol.
In other news, holy hellmuffin! First time listening to David Doersch, and this certainly won't be the last!
Narrated by: David Doersch
I was intrigued by the description of this story, and found the last quarter to be riveting! While the beginning was a very slow start for me, I found that it was because the author was providing the foundation layer by layer in the most precise and delicate way. I found the memory box to be absolutely fascinating and the big question of would you or wouldn’t you want to relive every memory from your life, to be very intriguing. I myself would not use the memory box, but it definitely poses a controversial question. I had hoped for a bit quicker of a pace, and more action earlier on but overall this was a solid scifi thriller!
This was a strange book. Not quite as sci-fi as I had expected and I found none of the characters likeable.
This audiobook was a wild ride! I wasn’t expecting half of the things that happen. If felt like a black mirror episode and I loved every single bit of it. I didn’t really feel The Wizard of Oz at first but as the book continued I understood more. Only thing I didn’t like it now controlling his wife is, saying he can’t talk about his deceased ex wife. I just felt that was a little low tbh. My favorite character has got to be Jodie tho. I absolutely loved her and how she was absolutely ready to fight anyone that wanted it! The ending tho? This is going to be an ending that I will have on my mind for a long long time. Absolutely amazing and well written. Can’t wait to read others from this author. Thank you to Netgalley for giving me the chance to read this arc
Author: Michael Paul Kozlowsky
Publisher: Imbrifex Books
Publishing: August 2,2022
Special thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for my digital copy of the book. And thanks to @angelsmomreads and @booksnbites13 for buddy reading this one with me. All opinions are my own.
From Amazon: "Sean Whittlesea was there when his wife was murdered. He saw the light leave her eyes. He held her dead body in his arms. He knows he wept, but he cannot recollect a single other detail. Tormented by the tragedy, Sean relives the horror over and over again. As he struggles to recall what really happened, his imagination serves up an endless chain of scenarios. The truth, however, remains hidden in the vault of his memory, and the key is nowhere to be found.
Nearly two decades later, Sean, now remarried and a father of two, wins a bizarre contest hosted by his eccentric boss. The prize is the Memory Palace, a state-of-the-art black box that purportedly allows its possessor to relive every moment he has ever experienced, playing out all the memories on a screen.
While the small machine at first appears to be the answer to the mystery surrounding the death of his wife, it instead upends Sean’s life. He pushes his family further and further away as the Memory Palace forces him to confront harsh realities and difficult questions that he lacks the strength to face or answer. Spiraling downward, Sean encounters increasingly harrowing challenges that force him to realize that his memory is not the only thing at stake. To recover the truth about his past, Sean must fight for his very life."
If you enjoy slow burn psychological thrillers then this is the book for you!
It had me curious from the get-go and I had a hard time finding out what was happening, what the purpose of the box was and who the bad guy could possibly be if there was one. It was strange (in a good way) and at times confusing, but I think some of it went a little over my head.
The narrator did a great job portraying the torment and obsession of Sean as he worked through his memories and tried to discover the actual truth.
Thank you so much to net galley and the publisher for sending me a copy of this book. I really enjoyed the plot of this book and the ending. The characters were so unlikable but I think that was kind of the point.
A definitely unique, original mind trip - no puns intended! Slow in spots, but once the story takes flight, it doesn't stop, right up to its fantastic, justified ending. I loved the clever use of the title and although the narration might normally annoy it, it greatly added to the story and connected the character well.
<i>Life could not be accurately reproduced. Not in photographs, not on video, not in memory. Real life came around once, and we had to catch it while it was taking place; otherwise, it was distorted. We were distorted. The only truth was in the box.</i>
Sean Whittlesea works in a company whose boss comes up with contests for widowed men, promising a life of fame and wealth to the winner. One day, Sean Whittlesea wins one of those contests, and is gifted the Memory Place, a box that will replay all your memories. Entrapped by its lure, a plaintive Sean pushes away his family to discover what happened to his wife.
Scarecrow Has a Gun is a superlative piece of work, with its foundation rooted in the psychological brittleness and malleability of memory. It brings out the critical truth of human existence. That human memory is unreliable. The details of it cannot be trusted. Humans tend to fill in the gaps in their memories with information which seems accurate to them. We shape our memories, minimize or multiply the damage they can do. Sean is sure his recollection of his own memories are more accurate than the ones displayed by the Memory Place, but he soon realizes that his own mind cannot be trusted to play a memory accurately. This theme of the book was my favorite. The narrator's voice was perfect for the story.
The middle of the book got repetitive, but the ending did it justice. However, there was one plothole in the book I could not overlook. In the book's ending, Sean only gets rid of Mr. Ulger, but his assistant can always take his place. The objects in Mr. Ulger's office still exist. The other widowers with destructive gifts like the puppet pills are there as well. Sean's revenge could have been executed better, with Sean coming up with a plan to get rid of all the potential evil people existing within the company. Apart from that and Sean forgiving his not-so-good partner so easily, this book is the perfect blend of mystery, science fiction, fantasy, and psychological thriller.
Thanks to NetGalley, Imbrifex Books, and Michael Paul Kozlowsky for providing me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
oh I loved this book. LOL I’ve been thinking about it all day.
What if there was a way to relive your memories. If there was a way to bottle your memories what could we do with them? What if those memories weren’t exactly how we remembered them?
This book started with an introduction to Sean’s boss in a life threatening game involving the Widowers Club.
This book flies off on some pretty wild tangents. If the publisher’s summary or what I’ve written here sound interesting then you should definitely pick up this book! You’re never quite sure what the truth is. I loved the ending!
Thank you NetGalley & Imbrifex Books, this was a crazy great story!!
It was like a Guy Ritchie film in novel form. Fast read!
I will be thinking about this one for awhile. It was weird.
Good story but dragged a bit in the middle. Ending saved it. Thanks to Netgalley for the opportunity to listen to this audiobook
How much can we trust our memories? Over time do they become diluted or exaggerated, contaminated or glossed over? This book, aptly named for the unsettling scene in The Wizard of Oz, discusses and explores all the ways memory is malleable.
I enjoyed this book for its speculative aspects. As an idea, memory is a fascinating one and the author does it justice. If you need likable characters to enjoy a story... maybe skip this one. The characterization is well-done, and I felt like I got to know these characters well over the course of the story. They feel real.
The audiobook narration was excellent, namely the performance of one character's manic laugh that just kept reentering the dialogue.
I chose to listen to this book because of the first line of the description: Never trust other people's memories, and watch out for your own. That led me to believe this was definitely going to be a case of "be careful what you wish for." I hoped for tinges of maybe "The Twilight Zone"and the darker side of "Fantasy Island". I wasn't disappointed. The journey to get the answers that the protagionist thinks he wants has a lot of surprises along the way, as you kind of knew it would. The author was extremely skillful in keeping you guessing up until almost the last minute. I thought I had things figured out farly early on, but there was just enough doubt caused by alcohol and drug use,, that I was never entirely positive what was real, and because of the nature of the story, "real"almost escapes definition. I will say that this book stayed with me as few others have. The characters were not very likeable even most of the time, so if that is something you have to have in order to enjoy the story, this book might not be for you. Again, the author was very skillful at making his characters feel legitimate and empathetic. I can't say that I would change a single thing about this book, and I'm glad I read it.
The audio performance was exceptionally well done. I received both the audio and eBook versions, and I would say I listened to about 90% of the book and only switched to reading when audio wasn't convenient.
I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
I received a free Advanced Reading Copy via NetGalley in exchange for a complete and honest review.
One of the best books I've read in a long while.
Thanks to both NetGalley and Booksirens for advanced copies of this book! I have both an audio and ebook copy and both are great!
Audio only feedback: the narrator was good for the book once I got into it. At the beginning he felt so robotic I just wasn’t sure it was going to work for me. Once the story got going though, the robotic-type voice was perfect.
This is an interesting story that deals with memory - and ways we can enhance the memories we know we have - and whether or not this is a good idea. I really enjoyed the way this story was told and how it unfolds. It’s predictable in nature, which honestly isn’t a bad thing. While a twist I didn’t see coming would have been doubly amazing, I enjoyed knowing where it was headed (by correctly guessing of course) and watching the MC figure it out and handle it in his own way.
I really enjoyed this work by Michael Kozlowsky. Although not knowing completely what it would be about, I enjoyed there story and the points regarding memory the book made. The book really picks up steam in the 2nd half, a plot point they could have spent more time with. Excellent narration as well.
The cover and the title are a curious choice here as neither seems to have much to do with the actual book. Also there were some diatribes that dint add much to the story. Otherwise a solid read that will make you think,
What if you can remember everything that happened in your life, would you want it? Would you take the opportunity to recall it all, including episodes that you have blocked out of your mind? That is the opportunity that was presented to Sean Whittlesea. His boss presents Sean with the Memory Palace, a state-of-the-art device that allows the possessor to relive every moment on a screen. Sean soon realizes that perusing some memories might lead to truths better left forgotten.
Written by Bronx, New York native, Michael Paul Kozlowsky delivers the harrowing tale of Scarecrow Has a Gun. This near future story of a memory devise is a look at life in general. Just as Sean, humanity tends to skim over the good and dwell in the tragic. As interesting as the novels concept is, the story tends to be bogged down with too many details. Kozlowsky's characters are very real. It's not a stretch to see bits of self in them, but the scenes drag on. But for those who would love a chance to relive their lives this is an intriguing read.
The audiobook is narrated by David Doersch. With a novel taking place in the NYC area, it is a treat to have the accent to go with the place. He helps to make this novel more compelling.
Horribly slow start with ridiculously unlikable characters. I didn't even like the "baby" of the family. Everyone was awful! The last quarter of the book was better, more intense and the surprise at the end gave me enough of a shock that I bumped the read up to 4 stars from 3. Interesting concept. Bad characters. Make someone likable. Hard to root for people you can't stand.
Are you looking for a unique book that will hook you almost from the first words on the page? If you are looking for something that is unique and scary? Sean Whittlesea wants to remember the night that his wife was killed in front of him. Enter a unique way to remember events in your life, given to him by his boss. Will this help him remember, or will it ruin his life?
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing the audibook version of this book for review.
I really enjoyed David Doersch's narration - he was easy to listen to and emoted well without going over the top.
Scarecrow has a Gun is an intriguing story which really kept me guessing. The idea presented is unique and at times a little confusing - I was about halfway through the story before I had a clear idea of what was going on.
Sean is a remarried widower - I enjoyed the realistic representation of his relationship with his second wife - two people who love each other but both have their faults. After winning one of a bunch of (very weird) competitions, he is gifted the 'Memory Palace' which allows him to view his memories on a TV. Sean uses the Memory Palace to try and remember who killed his first wife, a task which completely engulfs his 'real' life.
Overall this book had a really interesting concept that I wanted to love. Unfortunately, it was a little slow paced for me at times, and I didn't end up finding it a particularly easy listen, despite the strong narration - if I had a book copy rather than an audiobook I'm not sure I'd have finished it.
3.5 stars for a really interesting concept!
It was hard for me to judge this story. I thought the narrator was great, which helped keep me more engaged in the story than I think I would've been otherwise. I was intrigued by the concept, but I felt like this story got bogged down by all the exposition. I think it would have made a much better short story- I felt like a lot of the text was just filler. I also wasn't crazy about Sean as a character, which made it difficult for me to connect to the story. While the ending made things clearer, it felt a bit rushed, and there were just too many things that were never clearly explained.
Are accurate memories a new superpower?
“Scarecrow Has a Gun” revolves around events and how people’s memories of them differ. False memories are strange but more common than one might think. Let’s get the title out of the way first – yes, in “The Wizard of Oz” the scarecrow really does have a gun. Drag out your ancient copy and fast forward to the “Haunted Forest” scene; look closely. Just after Lion exclaims, “I’d turn back if I were you,” there it is, a close-up of Scarecrow holding – a revolver! It is right there, yet no one remembers.
“Things” happen every day, right in the open, but people remember them differently or not at all. Hence, the discrepancies police find in “eyewitness” reports. Since typical memories are not always accurate, can restoring the accuracy of the past produce a new superpower? This is the question that Michael Paul Kozlowsky explores in “Scarecrow Has a Gun.”
A business mogul with an insider group of “unattached” men, “The Widowers Club,” creates a little cult of “better” men who gain business advantages that lead to unlimited success. Admission to this elite group is granted to the first one who passes a “test” given once per year. Sean wins this year’s challenge, but for him, winning is not a quick trip to money and fame, but is instead a journey into a past filled with events that are not as he remembered. Readers follow his journey to enlightenment and despair as he struggles with his inability to correctly remember details of past events, both trivial and incredibly important.
Kozlowsky’s story explores the balance between opportunity and chance, and between recall and reality. I listened to “Scarecrow Has a Gun” on audio, narrated by David Doersch. The story was compelling and thought-provoking; the narration enhanced the account. It challenges readers to examine the past both as it was and as it is remembered. Never trust other people’s memories, and watch out for your own.
I received a review copy of “Scarecrow Has a Gun” from Michael Paul Kozlowsky, David Doersch, and Imbrifex Books. “Scarecrow Has a Gun” is now available in print, as an e-book, and on audio from independent bookstores, online booksellers, retail stores, public libraries, and anywhere you get your books.
#BookReview #ScarecrowHasAGun #MichaelPaulKozlowsky #AudioBook
I finished this book 9/4/2022
Sci-fi is not my most favorite type of read. That being said. The idea of a memory machine was interesting. Kind of reminds me of that old saying 'be careful what you wish for.' Knowing the truth may not make you happy.
The way the story is presented made me start wondering if the memory machine was actually revealing the true memories or changing our memories for an ulterior goal.
All in all the book was OK. A little long winded for me and still left me questioning at the end.
The concept of the story was intriguing. While Sean Whittlesea seemed like a likable character at the onset, he sheds that like ability once he gets the Memory Palace, a box that reveals memories.
There are really great parts of the story that pulled me in to the finish. But the middle lags a bit. There is enough repetition and unnecessary detail that it felt weighed down. The end finishes with tidy ends to the main plot, but right at the conclusion, we’re introduced to other technologies that could have played a bigger role during the entire story. Felt a little chopped up, and maybe a bit more editing would have been beneficial.
It does make you dive a bit deeper into the concept of memories and how our brain’s perception is reality. It also might drive you to watch Wizard Of Oz again, because after all, “Scarecrow Has A Gun.” (Guilty)
The narrator of the audiobook did a wonderful job. He nails the accent, and really characterized Josie’s nails on chalkboard laugh.
Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for an audiobook copy in exchange for an honest review.
Thank you to NetGalley for this audio ARC. I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
I requested this because it sounded quite interesting, not like anything I've read before. The idea of it was good, the memory palace and the memory aspect as a whole in this was intriguing and very insightful. I just feel like it just lacked in the execution a little bit. There were somethings in this that needed a bit more ironing out, more clarification was needed, it just overall just needed to be more fleshed out..
The characters weren't very like able, I don't think any of them were likeable, but I don't think they were meant to be either. I enjoyed listening to this, the narrator was really good but like I said it just needed a bit more fleshing out, especially when the idea is so interesting, I just didn't get that here I'm afraid.
When I think about Michael Paul Kozlowsky's SCARECROW HAS A GUN, a few days after finishing it, I feel a little perplexed and puzzled. Curious. Not pleased, but also not <i>unsatisfied</i>. I think it's important that after reflecting all this time, I'm still processing complex emotions in response to the story, the characters, and the ending. That means Kozlowsky did his job as a writer: he really entertained me.
SCARECROW is one of those stories where the only characters you really like are the kids and the dead women. That's okay because Kozlowsky pours the stink on thick for everyone, and he also gives lead characters (including the villains) a recognizable repugnance, so I was still able to connect to them.
Also, the concept is pretty interesting--it deals with the mutability of memory, and also the ethics of changing our memory and how that can affect those around us. This is a slippery topic though, as anything dealing with time can be, so expect the requisite plot issues.
One of those issues, in the case of SCARECROW, is that sometimes the narrator (I mean Kozlowski here, of course) goes on for way too long about the concept theory, instead of putting it into action for the reader. Thankfully, this doesn't happen often. All said, this was a great read that I grabbed on a whim because I had just finished L. Frank Baum's THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ and the reference snagged me. So glad for that happenstance!
Rating 4 stars
Finished September 2022
Recommended for fans of thrillers with a Sci-Fi twist, time thrillers, psychological thrillers, medical thrillers, stories about time and sanity, mental health thrillers
TW mild DV (mostly off page), mild child DV (mostly off page), violence against children, burns, gaslighting, guns and shootings, suicide
I don’t even know where to begin with this review. Never have I been speechless. I can see where it would fall into the sci-fi category. But it’s even more psychological thriller. It will make you feel like you’re listening/watching a train wreck yet unable to stop. Leaving you with dread. I felt so paranoid. Sort of reminded me of that show Person Of Interest. It’s so hard to review without spoilers. Think Stephen King psychological thriller, when he writes about real life things that could happen. Yes, the biggest thing we need to fear is our own memories and mind. Did what we remember really happen? If so, was it as we think it was? Sometimes your psyche does things to protect itself from the horror. And sometimes pleasant memories weren’t really as pleasant as we thought. This book is so many genres in one. At the core, is the big mystery of who killed Sean’s wife. After all, he was knocked out.
I didn’t like his second wife Haley at the beginning. Then I got to know her and see why some things made her like she was. Sean was a train wreck himself. Always wondering and would do anything for answers. Well, his boss seems to have something that would solve all his problems. The black box. Just plug the wires into your temples and you can see your past. But be careful, you can’t control what you see or pick and choose. And sometimes, not everything is as it appears. Some things are nothing like you THINK you remember. Wanna go back in time and relive it? Just plug in. Sean becomes obsessive. Some times we just don’t know how good we’ve got it. All and all, my take away from this? Live in the present. I’ve heard this and been told this so many times, especially if I’ve been depressed sometimes. I never really knew how to do this or if it was possible. But now I do. And now, more than ever, I see why it’s so important and count my blessings.
The narrator was pretty good. At first I wasn’t crazy about him but as I listened, he became a really good narrator for this type of book. I LOVED the ending. Wish this could be made into a movie. I’m not sure why so many of us rated it three stars except the fact it’s someone we love to hate. Creepy really.
Thank you to NetGalley, publisher and author for this opportunity
This is a great psychological thriller. The writer keeps you invested in the characters and wanting to read more to find out what happens. A definite recommendation for mature audiences.
My favorite quote in the whole book is these three little lines. "Life could be found in the sadness. It was in the troubling and the tragic. Happiness, it turns out, could be blinding." The Matrix' meets 'Fight Club' meets 'Memento' in this thrilling psychological science fiction mystery of a book. Plenty of reread value as the subtle details uncovered in the main character's memories fly out rather quickly and are easily missed. Trigger warning: psychological domestic abuse. Enter this mind palace at your own risk.
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