Burning the Middle Ground is a dark fantasy about small-town America that transforms readers’ fears about the country’s direction into a haunting tale of religious conspiracy and supernatural mind control. A character-driven sensibility like Stephen King’s and a flair for the bizarre like Bentley Little’s delivers as much appeal for dedicated fans of fantasy and horror as for mainstream readers looking for an exciting ride. Brian McCullough comes home from school and discovers that his ten-year-old sister Fran has murdered their parents. Five years later, a journalist, Ronald Glassner, finds Brian living at the same house in the small town of Kenning, Georgia. Planning a book on the McCullough Tragedy, Ronald stumbles into a struggle between Kenning’s First Church, run by the mysterious Reverend Michael Cox, and the New Church, run by the rebellious Jeanne Harper. At the same time, Kenning’s pets go berserk, and dead bodies, with the eyes and tongues removed from their heads, begin to appear.
*My Book Review*
DISCLAIMER: This book/eBook being reviewed was provided free of charge for an honest review.
Burning the Middle Ground by L. Andrew Cooper starts with a bang and keeps on delivering to the very end! I just couldn’t put this book down and when I had to, I kept thinking about it anyway.
I found the author’s writing style completely addictive and his detail to character development just magnificent. While Cooper describes his characters and their stories a lot, he still manages to make them all compelling without bogging the reader down. Each little facet of their lives was devoured as I read at a rapid pace, following a plot that captured me to the very heart-thumping end.
While this story revolves around a small religious town in the U.S. (and yes, I did find myself comparing First Church with Westboro Baptist), not once did I find the subject matter preachy – even when the battle between good and evil really kicked off. I also found the addition of a gay main character interesting and yet not at all the stereotypical plot bunny I was expecting. Well done Cooper!
While this story is a classic horror story, the writer manages to build suspense deliciously and at a slow pace that makes you read with a frenzy to find out what is going to happen next. His prose is intense as well as dread-filled and at times terribly creepy (but in a good way). Yet, there are times when this suspense is softened with humour. It eases the tension for the reader and allows them a slight break before the next creepy instalment washes over them.
The one flaw I could find with this book though, was the middle section. We find the story ends on a cliff hanger and then we are introduced to a new section of the book. This part deals with the back story which is interesting enough, and by this stage of the book we are wondering WHY people are doing the things they are doing. However, I just found it dragged on a little too long and by the time you were bought into the thirst section, the reader had to stop and remember where the characters were up to. Not to mention, there is no indication at the start of this section (or at the beginning of the next) of the significant time lapses.
But I suggest that if the reader is lagging with the middle section, they must persevere, because the third part of this book is just fantastic! We find the characters thrown into some pretty bizarre and surreal situations yet, with the back story, we now believe what is happening entirely:
“They were four people – or perhaps three – standing on a road that was not a road, in a place that was not a place.”
See, weird! While things get decidedly strange towards the end of this book, I still found myself enjoying the ride and was disappointed only when it was over. Great job L. Andrew Cooper!
I am giving Burning the Middle Ground by L. Andrew Cooper 4 out of 5 stars.
Not only is this a great novel, but there is a giveaway also! Go into the draw to win a Kindle Fire or Kindle Paperwhite. There are plenty of other great prizes on offer also!
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About the Author:
L. Andrew Cooper thinks the smartest people like horror, fantasy, and sci-fi. Early in life, he couldn’t handle the scary stuff–he’d sneak and watch horror films and then keep his parents up all night with his nightmares. In the third grade, he finally convinced his parents to let him read grownup horror novels: he started with Stephen King’s Firestarter, and by grade five, he was doing book reports on The Stand.
When his parents weren’t being kept up late by his nightmares, they worried that his fascination with horror fiction would keep him from experiencing more respectable culture. That all changed when he transitioned from his public high school in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia to uber-respectable Harvard University, where he studied English Literature. From there, he went on to get a Ph.D. in English from Princeton, turning his longstanding engagement with horror into a dissertation. The dissertation became the basis for his first book, Gothic Realities (2010). More recently, his obsession with horror movies turned into a book about one of his favorite directors, Dario Argento (2012). He also co-edited the textbook Monsters (2012), an attempt to infect others with the idea that scary things are worth people’s serious attention.
After living in Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and California, Andrew now lives in Louisville, Kentucky, where he teaches at the University of Louisville and chairs the board of the Louisville Film Society, the city’s premiere movie-buff institution. Burning the Middle Ground is his debut novel.
Find L. Andrew Cooper Online:
May 8 – Read 2 Review- Character Post
May 9 – readings Sunshine – Review
May 10 – Spellbindings- Guest Post
May 11 – Beagle Book Space – Promo/Spotlight
May 12 – SpecMusicMuse – Review
May 14 – Workaday Reads -Guest Post
May 15 – The FlipSide of Julianne – Interview
May 16- Once Upon a Time – Guest Post
May 17 – Sheila Deeth – Character Post
May 18 – Azure Dwarf – Review
May 19 – MikesFilmTalk – Review
May 20- Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews – Interview
May 21 – Beauty in Ruins – Review
May 24- Book Den – Guest Post
May 25- Come Selahway With Me – Excerpt
May 28- The Dan O’Brien Project – Promo/Excerpt
May 31- Armand Rosamilla, Horror Author – Guest Post
June 1- Bee’s Knees Reviews- Review
June 3- Rachel Tsoumbakos – Review <—— You are HERE.
June 4- Fictional Candy – Excerpt
June 5- I Smell Sheep – Guest Post
- Burning the Middle Ground by L Andrew Cooper A Battle for Control (mikesfilmtalk.com)