59687898._sy475_He came from over the red mountain. A man torn to within an inch of his life. A man without a face. A strange, enchanted man.

A Ma Shen folk tale told to and via Jack CJ Stark.

Source Format Pages Publisher Genre Publication Date
Amazon ebook 239 self published Folk tale / Dark Fantasy November 26th, 2021

Stark knows how to pull a rabbit out of a hat. Really. The couple Ma Shen Folk Tales that I have read to date, have this earthy feel to them. You can feel a certain connection to the nature, there’s a vibe, right? It truly *is* the smell of hay, the scent of dewy moss, the aroma of bonfire smoke, the clanging of metal, the scratching of a handsaw at spruce. You get my gist.

Jack always delivers the atmosphere, the people, the real life feeling. And then… something happens. There’s always a turning point. And it turns into a total opposite of tranquility and a total opposite of safe. It turns bloody. Deathly.

And, I won’t even try to begin to read in between the lines. I know there’s more to the undertones and themes to every story Stark tells. I know it, because he has hinted at it without wanting to spoiler the book for me before I read it. But, see, Stark has a more elaborate hand at work here, his mind has worked its mysterious ways to purge the double-meaning onto the pages. There are so many various themes you could conjure out from in between the lines. Metaphorical, this story is metaphorical!

So, basically, if you want, you get a story that goes from zero to bloody fucking hell one hundred in a blink – and you just got to hold on to your horses, because shit gets grim. Grim, dark, horrible, grim.

Or… you’re more of a thinking man, and you can maybe drill your piercing reading eyes into the folds of the story unfolding and take a whole other meaning away from it.

Because, yes. At first glance, life can be shit and horrible things happen. They just do, no rhyme or reason. But then, looking at it again, everything has a reason. Even the bad things have a reason. Thing is, you may drive yourself insane trying to figure out where causality begins.

Anyway, waxing poetic here now, as one might say. And fully understand how vague and ‘makes no sense at all’ this may sound, but it’s the beauty of art, baby. You get as much out of it as you’re willing to take.

But, being less vague and inspired/gushy – The Red Mountain Man left me with a shit-ton of questions. So, so, so many questions. My questions aside, I can only commend Stark for writing another bewitching story. A folk tale told around the bonfire for generations, a fantasy tale of mysterious beings being hinted at, a horror tale of inconceivable deeds. Once we got through the bloodiest of it all, I admit, I quite enjoyed the ending. This final scene, the rolling credits of a life lived- a life so full of incomprehensible things, yet simply only an episode. How bittersweet.

So yeah, read it! I recommend!