by: Victor LaValle
published by: Random House Publishing
publish date: August 21, 2012
Pepper is a rambunctious big man, minor-league troublemaker, working-class hero (in his own mind), and, suddenly, the surprised inmate of a budget-strapped mental institution in Queens, New York. He’s not mentally ill, but that doesn't seem to matter. He is accused of a crime he can’t quite square with his memory. In the darkness of his room on his first night, he’s visited by a terrifying creature with the body of an old man and the head of a bison who nearly kills him before being hustled away by the hospital staff. It’s no delusion: The other patients confirm that a hungry devil roams the hallways when the sun goes down.
This was one of those books that when I'm done I just don't really know what to think about it. It was compelling. I read it all the way through. I wanted to know what was going to happen to all the characters, because they were really good characters. Overall there was just kind of an "That's it?" feeling at the end I think.
I guess I was hoping for more of an actual horror story and not an accounting of the atrocities that go on in mental institutions. It WAS scary. The whole book was dark and foreboding, but all the monsters were everyday things once in the daylight. There were some other things about the book that I didn't particularly care for. The whole biography of Vincent van Gogh was a little much.
However, like I said, I did like the characters. I really liked when Pepper met his girlfriend. His comment about her teeth had me dying laughing. Pepper's comments throughout the book were a constant source of amusement. Loochie was another really fun character. Her personality was really likable and you can't help but cheer her on.
While it wasn't necessarily my favorite book of the year, it definitely wasn't the worst. I am glad I read it because I think it will be one of those quietly successful novels.