Cuckoo Cuckoo

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Pub Date 01 Jul 2022 | Archive Date 29 Aug 2022

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Description

The darkest secrets never stay buried forever.

Charles Abernathy Vanderough has been dead for nineteen years. But when his clone shows up on the doorstep of the old Vanderough estate, a family is forced to confront their troubled past and face their darkest secrets.

Cuckoo Cuckoo is the story of Charlie B, a penniless clone and conman, who goes in search of the family fortune, only to find deception and tragedy at every turn. Set against the backdrop of the 2016 presidential primary, the proliferation of gun violence in America, and the apotheosis of selfie culture, Cuckoo Cuckoo reminds us that nobody can outrun their demons in an increasingly technological world.

The darkest secrets never stay buried forever.

Charles Abernathy Vanderough has been dead for nineteen years. But when his clone shows up on the doorstep of the old Vanderough estate, a family is...


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ISBN 9780990824749
PRICE $9.99 (USD)

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Average rating from 5 members


Featured Reviews

I really enjoyed reading this, it was a short read and I liked that it took real world events and had science fiction elements in it. I liked getting to know Charlie and the struggles that he had in everyday life. One of the lines that rescinded with me was "“Oh Maggie. You’ve been so good to me. I wish I could remember you better.” Maggie looked away. “It’s probably best you don’t,” she said and switched on the kitchen television set."

It really made me think about the idea of cloning and what the consequences of that are, this was a really well done story and I look forward to more from Mr. Nicholas Ponticello.

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[The full review will be posted at wastanley.com on 20 July, Amazon review has been submitted; currently awaiting approval]

A darkly comic (and wonderful) sci-fi mystery

I received an advance reader copy of Cuckoo Cuckoo for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

Narrated by Charles C. Vanderough, a clone of the protagonist Charles B. Vanderough (or Charlie B), who, himself, is a clone of the original Charles Abernathy Vanderough, Cuckoo Cuckoo sees Charlie B, who upon grauating from the Price-Harold School for Boys, is ready for what he is certain will be a life of luxury, funded by the original's fortune. Upon learning the original Charles has only provided a small allowance to find somewhere to live and survive until finding a job, Charlie B determines the best course of action is to move into the original's estate, now occupied by Charles A's brother, Ron, Ron's wife, Maggie, and their son, Ethan. Seeing this as his means to secure the inheritance he believes is rightly his, Charlie B sets his plan in motion.

The fun of this novella starts from the very outset, packed with ark humour that fits perfectly with its high concept plot; something that ensured I had a smile plastered on my face from beginning to end. While its core plot is fairly straightforward, the author has added various scenes set outside the core story that comment on the state of the world. He has written these sections with a wonderfully dry wit, and they juxtapose brilliantly with Charlie B, who while an eighteen-year-old of our time, is, in many ways, an old soul. As the book reaches its crescendo, these sections that initially read like asides come to the fore, connecting to the finale in a beautiful way.

While many novellas have a tendency of providing an underwritten story, which can result in a simplified tale, rushed events, or complexity in the story or characters, Cuckoo Cuckoo makes no such mistakes. This is the perfect length for the story being told, and makes use of its space brilliantly. It is clear the author has written this novella with a clear goal of what he wanted to achieve, and did so incredibly well.

In addition to all its humour, the author has infused the book with sci-fi, family drama and mystery. The blend of genres works brilliantly, with none of them overpowering the book. These elements work together and play off each other for a combination that draws the reader in, begging them to keep moving through the book.

At the epicentre of the book is Charlie B, an unsympathetic character who is an entitled epitome of the born to rule elite, even being left without the means he desperately believes he deserves. As unsympathetic as he is, he is entirely engaging, and one whose exploits I thoroughly enjoyed following. Most of the other characters are seen through his lens and the prism of the disruption his arrival brings the Vanderough family. through the prism of the disruption his sudden arrival means to the Abernathy family. This works well because of the story’s tight focus on Charlie B; however, the exception to this is Maggie, whose character brings some heart to the story.

Tying this book together is its wonderful prose. In place of an omniscient narrator is Charlie B's clone, Charles C. Abernathy. While it serves much the same purpose, Charles C's inclusion plays into the clone dynasty and ensures the narrator is a character unto themselves. Through this narration, the author brings much of the book's wit and does so while keeping the book moving through its limited space while still allowing all its elements to shine.

Cuckoo Cuckoo is a wonderful novella that tells a darkly comic sci-fy/mystery story. No space is wasted as it brings the reader along for Charlie B's story. This is a high concept book that that infuses all its elements brilliantly; the various asides not only provide a wry commentary, they work with the main narrative to create a superb finale. From beginning to end, it lures the reader in and ensures they have a great time.

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This was great fun! The premise sounded so interesting and I'm very glad I picked this up. It's a very creative little book, and kept me reading until I'd pretty much finished it in one sitting.

I loved the morally dubious main characters, and I always love a book that can tell you it's ending on the first few pages but still make you need to keep reading.

I'm very impressed by how much Ponticello packs into this book too. Throughout the main story there are great sprinkles of slightly absurd/disturbing scenes where three news readers discuss subjects such as Donald Trump and mass shootings before immediately moving on to talk about other trivial things. It all comes together perfectly in the end.

I also have to say that somehow this book reminded me slightly of my favourite writer, Kurt Vonnegut. The speculative/sci fi elements and the quirkiness of it were just what I want from a novel.

Thank you for letting me read this, I look forward to reading more of this author in the future.

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This is a short book, novella perhaps, and even its scant running time is bulked out by asides by a talk radio station discussing the first few days of Trump declaring to run for President. Its a little unclear why. The story itself is the tale of a clone (Charles B) of a very rich man (Charles A), educated in a private school who when he reaches 18 discovers that unlike many of his clone classmates, he is not fabulously wealthy and that his benefactor (clone original) has suggested he earn an honest living. There is - of course - a soft satire here about the wealthy wanting to cling on to money which could tie to Trump, but bar setting in in 2015 there seems to be no reason to remind ourselves of those dark days. Its a zingingly venal piece of work though which isn't all that worried about the narrative destination - the book is narrated by a third clone (Charles C) who was activated by the second clones suicide which we are told on the first page.

That the first though Charles B has when he doesn't get his inheritance is to go an inveigle it out of those who have got it (his originals brother and her wife) underpins the kind of satire this is. There is enough flesh on Charles B's bones to make him a compelling lead, and as you might imagine everyone has secrets and everyone is a fair bit awful. Its messy enough to feel like an approximation of well off life, but the length does mean that its mainly waiting for a twist reveal at the end rather then deep personal growth (not least, as we are told on page one, out lead character commits suicide). The cloning setup is the only thing that sets it outside our world (and it could totally take place in it if the secrecy the book suggests is there), but its a neat if slight satire.

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Charles Abernathy Vanderough has been dead for nineteen years. But when his clone shows up on the doorstep of the old Vanderough estate, a family is forced to confront their troubled past and face their darkest secrets.
Cuckoo Cuckoo is the story of Charlie B, a penniless clone and conman, who goes in search of the family fortune, only to find deception and tragedy at every turn. Set against the backdrop of the 2016 presidential primary, the proliferation of gun violence in America, and the apotheosis of selfie culture, Cuckoo Cuckoo reminds us that nobody can outrun their demons in an increasingly technological world. I liked the idea behind the novel and the execution of that idea was impressive. The writing style was simple and effective and the overall flow of the story felt very smooth. I read this book in one sitting. as I really wanted to get to the end to see how it was going to end.

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