reviews

Well Fed (Mountain Man #4) by Keith C. Blackmore - Book Review

Write on: Thu, 12 Nov 2020 by  in Max's Reviews Read 2532

“Too bad a person couldn't pick whom they shared the apocalypse with.”

The past is a tricky thing. No matter how much time has gone by, certain memories will always remain. For some, memories will be looked upon fondly with a pure sense of longing or nostalgia; for others, memories might flood one’s emotions with pain and sorrow; and for some, the hurt is so unbearable that it’s easier to forget. For Gus Berry, in Keith C. Blackmore's Well Fed, the past seems to find new and often cruel ways to bite him in the ass. 

Sometime after the events of Mountain Man: Safari, Gus is living a safe and humble existence with a group of survivors who’ve created a small farming community. Having put the bottle – or bottles – behind him, Gus is hopeful that he can live a somewhat peaceful life with his newfound companions, and can move on from his tragic past. But Gus will soon learn – in more ways than one – that just like the lifeless bodies that roam the earth, refusing to die, one’s past rarely stays dead. 

In the fourth installment of the Mountain Man series, Blackmore explores two major themes: humans being more of a threat than the undead and the metaphorical ghosts of one’s past. While the first of the two has been touched upon in the series before, particularly in book three, Hellifax, Blackmore manages to do so in new and unique ways this time around, avoiding what could seem like a repetitive concept. What really worked with this topic in Well Fed is the notion that while some people simply give into their savage nature, acting out in brutal ways to experience some sick sense of satisfaction, others are much more methodical in their evil; they believe – with utmost sincerity – their actions to be what’s best for the survival of the human race. 

The second theme was truly fascinating, as Blackmore delved deep into Gus’s psyche. Memories of those he’d lost and events from the past are presented mostly through dreamlike sequences – sometimes drug-induced – while interwoven with the goings on in his present. The connections play out beautifully and provide Gus with some incredible moments of character development and growth. As Gus battles internally with the juxtaposition of who he used to be and who he wants to be, those from his past and those from his present – for better or for worse – nudge him along in his journey. 

Well-paced with a masterfully written character-arc, Well Fed knows when to be brutal and relentless, and when to be poignant and hopeful. I’m eagerly anticipating jumping into the fifth book, Make Me King. I’m curious to see where Blackmore takes the story next, however, as this seemed like a perfect ending to an incredibly fun, terrifying, touching, and utterly human journey. 

Max

Max’s passion for fantastic stories began with weekly trips to the comic book store as a child. Now an English teacher at a boarding school, he is always reading. Max has written for sites like Geeks of Doom and SF Signal, where he created the Indie Author Spotlight. Max lives in Connecticut with his wife – who graciously embraces his need to display action figures all over the house – and daughter, who is inheriting her parents’ affinity for books.