July 27, 2015

Adolescence and Apparitions: a review of Kevin Lucia's "A Night at Old Webb"

A Night at Old Webb
by Kevin Lucia
Apocrypha (2015)
74 pages

Available at Amazon.com

If you grew up in a small town that had some abandoned buildings on the outskirts, chances are you and/or someone in your circle of friends got drunk there. I dunno, man. You're in your teens, it's not like you can drink your peach schnapps that you pilfered from the kitchen at home, so you look for a quiet place away from prying eyes so you and your friends can drink until one or all of you are vomiting a rainbow of concoctions along the side of a car.

... not that I speak from experience.

Anyway, those places are always creepy, and they almost always come with an urban legend attached. A ghost, a serial killer, whatever. In Kevin Lucia's Clifton Heights, there's something else waiting our protagonist, and it's arguably his destiny.

The story starts off simply enough in Clifton Heights with our protag, Kevin Ellison, sifting through boxes in preparation to re-open the old bookshop he inherited from his recently deceased father. Books are everywhere, but it's when he and his assistant, Cassie, find one of his own spiral notebooks containing stories from his youth that he's reminded of a fragment of his past when he met a gal named Michelle. From there, we're treated to one of the formative moments in Kevin's life when he meets and becomes infatuated with Michelle, a girl whose past is as hard to pin down as her motives for wanting to hang out with Kevin.

While there is that air of mystery and something looming just beneath the surface or around the corner, as you might come to expect from a Clifton Heights tale, "Old Webb" is a bit more of a nostalgic romp and spotlight on Kevin's path in life and how he might change it now having revisited memories he'd long since buried about that mysterious girl, Michelle, as well as his relationship with his late father.

What it lacks in tension and suspense it makes up for with a wonderful slice of life vibe and a clear affinity for the characters and the backdrop of Clifton Heights. Is it a good gateway drug to convince you to read more stories set in this universe. I reckon so, though readers should be aware that things, as eerie and weird as they might get in this tale, get exponentially weirder in other stories.

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