"The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible." -Vladimir Nobokov

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Review: The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers

"The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothersis a rollicking and smart novel—mythic, mysterious and utterly compelling. Thomas Mullen shows us ourselves in his speculative historical fiction, and for readers who love great stories told beautifully, his books can't come fast enough."

—Jess Walter, author of The Financial Lives of the PoetsThe Zero, and Citizen Vince

It's rare to find a book that stays with you long after you read it. There are plenty of books that I think fondly about when the subject comes up, but only a few who's characters draw me back into their world at random intervals, making it impossible to think about anything else. A kind of haunting, but in a good way. ;)  To my surprise, I found that The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers by Thomas Mullen is one of those books.

The basic premise is as follows: Jason and Whit Fireson cannot die. This is especially convenient because they also happen to be bank robbers in the 1930s. Interested yet? Even if this seems a little unbelievable, Mullen handles it so well that the reader instantly suspends their disbelief and is wrapped up the fast paced narrative. And, while I didn't want to have to use this phrase, I could not put the book down!

All of the characters were interesting and well drawn. I especially liked the conversations between Jason and Whit, which were natural and humorous. The book is wide ranging, and goes in depth into several more minor characters surrounding the brothers. I found myself rooting first for the brothers, then for the cops that are chasing them, then for the third brother who feels lost in the wake of the two family outlaws. The time period is also fairly well drawn, and the spirit of a desperate country during the  Great Depression is put together nicely with a few stark images here and there.

After reading the reviews on Amazon, I can see why some people would complain that the setting and time period were not as clear as they hoped, or that the moral situation of the two outlaws was not well expressed. While I can see where they're coming from, I choose not to be quite as picky. Overall, The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers was captivating and well written, with characters that I can hear in my head if I just close my eyes and listen. What reader could ask for more?

1 comment:

  1. Next time I go to the library I'll go check it out! I love those daily photo prompts! And I haven't seen the one of the guy falling. That one is awesome.