Violence and impending hope collide in Ryan K. Howard’s edgy, controversial, and addictive debut.
For Benjamin Wilder, it was just another day in the life of a twelve-year-old boy…
– Waking up with a fresh black-eye, compliments of the Rabid Dog: CHECK
– Taking care of his drunken mother before school: CHECK
– Risking life-and-limb to sneak out for a sleepover (and getting caught): CHECK
– Witnessing two psychopaths commit unspeakable acts: CHECK
– Running for his life and assuming a new identity in the process: CHECK
– Living happily ever after: YEAH, NOT EXACTLY
Black Machetes is a powerful, page-turning psychological thriller—at times both shocking and endearing—written with gritty cinematic tones that paint a painfully intimate portrait of a world framed by abuse, tragedy, and inhibited love.
What reviewers are saying…
“This book in its entirety is a gritty and compelling tale of triumph in the face of adversity, and the horrors that some have to deal with and overcome to get there.” —The Bookie Monster @ Amazon
“I could not put this book down. It was believable, heartbreaking, funny, tragic and heartwarming.” —Donna @ Goodreads
“This book is a ‘page turner’ – I couldn’t put it down – the style of writing was clear and sharp, and the story well-woven.” —Lorna Kennedy @ Goodreads
“A very quick read. It will make you laugh, cry, cringe, and everything in between. A real emotional roller coaster. Read this book!!” —Michelle @ Goodreads
Benjamin Wilder grew up with sparse shelter, infested provisions, and constant abuse dealt to him by his stepfather: Jessup—a.k.a. the Rabid Dog. Without a sober mother to defend him from the Rabid Dog’s wrath, Ben finds reprieve and adventure in a club of misfit boys called the Black Machetes. But the world as Ben knows it comes to an end when he witnesses an act so psychologically appalling that it forces him to run for his life. He travels as far away as he can until fate steps in and guides him to a small town where he finds the help he needs to assume a new identity and live a life he could only imagine before.
Years after trying to bury the demons from his past, Ben seems to finally settle into a sense of normalcy. But his world continually gets turned upside-down by a series of discoveries, revealing that the evil from his childhood has never stopped cursing him—having over the years destroyed everyone he ever cared for. When the ticking time-bomb within Ben’s psyche finally detonates with a fumed vengeance, it pushes his wife and unborn child into the very clutches of the same malevolence that has forever haunted him. In the end, Ben must again face those demons from his past in order to save his true love, and ultimately his own sanity.
Bottom line: This book delivers on its promise and readers who enjoy intriguing characters and viscerally-visual narrative will not be disappointed.
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
The original concept was actually a paranormal short that was inspired by the piney woods of East Texas, which can get pretty scary when you are alone in them. Alas, the story grew and transformed into a realistic novel because oftentimes reality is far more tragic and horrific than fantasy.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
The characters as well as many of the scenes were conceptually driven by childhood memories and the tragic, heart-breaking experiences of real people that I’ve known through the years. Each character took on a life of its own, which is how it should be, right? Ben, the main character, is someone I wish I could be more like. Maddie, his love, is modeled after my true (real-life) love. Ben and I both don’t stand a chance against them, so we both just have to succumb to the smarter species–and we both realize we’re lucky to be able to.
Ryan K. Howard was born in Orange County, California but spent most of his adolescence growing up in the rural region of East Texas. Raised by a hard working single-mother with a restless spirit, Ryan frequently moved with his mom to help her chase the next dream. By the time he reached adulthood, he’d already called numerous locations home—from the country life of the Deep South to the laid back culture of the West Coast, rinse and then repeat. Ryan inherited the moving habit from his mom and continues the tradition of relocating residences to this very day (and with head-scratching regularity). He currently divides his time between Southern California and the Pacific Northwest. The gravitational pull between the two locales is sourced by love from his fiancé and best friend of three years who lives in Southern California and then by his kids who live in the Seattle area. While the frequent change of scenery probably seems unstable to the naked eye, Ryan is quick to point out (more to convince himself, mind you) that uber-artistic energy is drawn from his eclectic experiences. It’s hard to argue that claim as it shows in the cinematic imagery and heartbreakingly-genuine interactions that ring true in his debut novel Black Machetes.
As mentioned, Ryan’s primary writing base is Seattle where he lives with his two youngest kiddos along with a house full of ghosts that get pretty active when his early drafts are read aloud to them.
Have you read this book or others by this author? Tell us in the comments how you liked it!