Published by Shadow Work Publishing on October 5, 2018
Genres: Dark Fiction, Fiction, Horror, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Weird Tales
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The boys crept to the window and watched as Miss Maggie carried the long bundle into the barn, the weight of it stooping her aging back. Rafter lights spilled from the barn doors and Davey saw an arm fall from the canvas-wrapped parcel. He smiled.
“She got someone!”
Both children grinned and settled in their beds, eyes fixed to the ceiling.
This was family growth.
"Boden and Lutzke weave heartache and a backwoods tale as easily as telling a story around a campfire, delivered in an incredible voice." ~Robert Ford, author of BORDERTOWN
"Poetic, unnerving, and heartbreaking. The partnership between Boden and Lutzke yields the kind of story that leaves you aching and unsettled. Long after finishing, I couldn’t stop thinking about Maggie, her boys, and what happens out behind the barn." ~ Kristi DeMeester, Author of BENEATH
"Lawdy mercy. This story was amazing. There's something magical and sad about it. I dig it a lot."~ Michelle Garza (half of the Sisters of Slaughter) authors of MAYAN BLUE & THOSE WHO FOLLOW
OUT BEHIND THE BARN is a collaboration between authors John Boden and Chad Lutzke. I have only read one other book by Chad Lutzke prior to this, but I can say with certainty that I will be looking up other books by John Boden now, as well! The styles of these two authors combined to create–in my mind–a flawless “whole” in this novella.
We’re given a short scene in the synopsis that the story actually opens with: two young boys sneaking to their window at night, see an older woman carrying a large bundle into the barn. An arm falls free from the bundle, and the two boys excitedly go back to their beds.
“. . . a puzzle. Only my box doesn’t have all the pieces . . . “
This snippet is enough to conjure all kinds of scenarios into my mind, as a seasoned horror reader. The possibilities of where the authors could take this story from there are limitless!
Somehow, very early on in the book, I forgot all my preconceived notions and simply “lived” in the words that unfolded. That the tale is told through the eyes of one of the boys, makes it even more incredible as events at the farm they call home are casually disclosed.
“. . . A smile full of naivety and innocence, optimism and blissful ignorance . . . “
I won’t go into any other specifics of this novella, because it is one that is best to simply go into “like a child”–without any answers, and full of trust that the authors will give you all that you need.
This, they do with an elegance that makes it seem as if the story came to them easily. Yet, if you read their notes at the end, you’ll see that it actually took quite a bit from Boden’s first conception of a short story, to become the finished product you now see before you.
There were no easy answers here, just a brilliant telling that builds up steadily as your mind absorbs all the details.
“. . . Time moves fast, or not at all anymore . . .”
Though many images simply raised additional questions, this style was so fluent that I didn’t mind in the least. In fact, the notion of taking more than one sitting to read it entirely never even occurred to me. While reading, I felt that I was observing the story taking place before me, instead of intaking a flow of words. That is how powerful this story was. I mentally felt transported to this quaint farm life.
Overall, I honestly can’t think of a single thing that didn’t satisfy me in this novella. The writing style was wonderful, the characters realistic, and the setting lacked for nothing. Everything that I needed to enjoy this story was contained within these pages.
As for the tale itself, this is one that I can not see leaving my mind anytime soon. It is also a book I fully intend to re-read often in the future.