A Review of Kelland by Paul G. Bens: FIVE STARS!

December 22, 2011

Arts & Literature, Reviews

by Alex Mcdermott:

Horror, real horror, creeps up on you. It crawls down the back of your neck and unsettles you. You turn on the lights, hoping that feeling will go away. It doesn’t. It lingers just around the corner like a thought you just can’t quite remember. Paul G. Bens’ novel Kelland is horror. Real horror. Before you realize it, the terror is already off the page and into the room.

Bens’ tale bounces through time and space as we meet a motley collection of characters. Minh and Toan are among the last refugees from the fall of Saigon. George is a shy nine-year-old fascinated with Catholicism. We meet Lucas posthumously through his parents after he commits suicide. Each story unfolds in bits and pieces and time slides across three decades. As each story develops, dark secrets and cracks in the veneer emerge. Minh is having a relentless string of affairs on his wife. Toan is gay and is estranged from his brother. George is having odd fainting spells, strange dreams, and hallucinations. Lucas’ parents are falling apart in the wake of their son’s death. These seemingly unrelated people all share something in common however. They have all met a mysterious stranger who changes their lives. A stranger who talks to them. A stranger who knows them. A stranger who makes them feel comfortable. A stranger who guides them.

What is evil? That is the crux of Bens’ novel and the climax brings us to a startling revelation. Kelland, in various guises, draws something from each of the characters. Strength? Courage? Self-realization? All of the above? In a single moment, lives are changed forever as we see the true nature of evil. Bens leads us down what seems like a familiar path, but the doubt begins to creep in. Where are we really headed? Who is Kelland? What is Kelland?

George is the only weak link in the story. Each character is so rich, so intense, but George lacks the depth of the adults. Maybe it’s because he is a child and doesn’t have the scope of adulthood. Maybe it’s because he represents the current cycle of evil and his role is limited in the story. Whatever the case, this is a minor flaw in an otherwise brilliant story. Powerful, thought-provoking, and complex, Kelland comes highly recommended!

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One Comment on “A Review of Kelland by Paul G. Bens: FIVE STARS!”

  1. B.E.Scully Says:

    I love novels that explore those sometimes ambiguous, shadowy spaces in between good and evil, right and wrong…been hearing good things about this one, review makes me want to check it out even more.


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