Book Review: The Fisherman by John Langan

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Title: The Fisherman

Author: John Langan

Release date: June 30th, 2016

I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect reading ‘The Fisherman.’ In fact, I was so intimidated by this book that for many years I didn’t even purchase it, believing whole-heartedly that I wouldn’t be a smart enough reader to digest this. I often worry about ‘literary’ horror in that I’ll be out of my depth with great/massive concepts and metaphors etc that I’ll not understand what’s going on and DNF because I can’t grasp the deeper meanings.

For anyone else who has this worry about this book – fear not. Langan is a stunning writer, absolutely, and operating on a completely different level than most, but his writing is also accessible and flows with such ease that you’d think your grandfather was telling you this story.

What I liked: The story follows Abe, a solid, dependable worker at IBM who finally falls in love, only to have that taken from him. After dealing with some of his grief, he finds he loves fishing. After another worker, Dan, also deals with lost love, the two of them strike up a friendship based on casting lines, catching fish and not speaking what rests just at the back of their tongues.

As time goes on, Dan, emboldened by some hidden discovery prompts the two of them to fish at this mysterious spot.

Langan does such a stellar job of showing a man just trying to carry on with his life, especially when the life he expected for himself and for his future, have been ripped away. Abe is instantly likeable, instantly feels like a character you’ve always known and his ache and grief fills you with ache and grief.

Of course, with dark fiction, things take a horrific turn. In this case we get two – an interlude of sorts where we learn the nature of how ‘The Dutchman’s River’ was named, as well as the last 3rd of the story when things occur and wrap up. Langan goes really dark throughout, but the character of Abe continued to ground this story and make you root for the man.

What I didn’t like: Honestly the back story of the river and how it got it’s name fell a bit flat for me. It should’ve had me riveted and engrossed, but instead I desperately wanted the section to end so that I could see what was going on with Abe. It does hold a purpose, especially with introducing The Fisherman, but I would’ve been personally happier if it was shorter.

Why you should buy this: The book itself was incredibly well done and the characters and moments throughout cut through into this reader’s heart and emotions. The ending was phenomenal and I loved seeing how Abe was able to kind of ‘find himself’ again, even if it was short lived. If this is on your TBR, I suggest you move it up and dive in, as the darkness that it holds was phenomenal.

4/5

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