Book Review – Anvil Soul by David O’Sullivan

“God, I take this as a sign!” I cried, lifting the gun in my hands, holding it up.  “Thy will be done!”

I’m going to stray a little bit from what I’ve been doing by writing a full book review this month.  I was provided an eARC of ANVIL SOUL by my lovely publisher, Pen Name Publishing—David is another of PNP’s authors.  I’ll admit, this isn’t the type of book I would normally pick up.  I’ve been purposely challenging myself in my reading lately, though, and this is another example of that.  Here’s a quick rundown of the plot.

Father James O’Ryan is one of three priests in the small town of Temora, in Australia.  When he witnesses another priest, Father Hilton, doing something terribly wrong, it sets off a chain reaction that turns the entire town against him.  Father O’Ryan must figure out where to draw the line in his morality, and how that fits in with his unending faith.

Fair warning—there may be some spoilers ahead!  But I’ll try to keep it as spoiler free as possible.

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Here is one big positive to this book—I wasn’t expecting the events in the last quarter of the book at all, and that was a pleasant surprise.  I read that last quarter so fast and stayed up way too late that particular night, but it was worth it.  Father O’Ryan makes a tough decision, and when he realizes what he did, he owns up to it.  That’s an interesting fact about Father O’Ryan’s character—you never had to question whether he was an honorable man.  He always did what he thought was right, even when others didn’t agree with him.  That’s pretty rad, but realistic for someone who committed to life as a priest.

Unfortunately, I had a very difficult time connecting to Father O’Ryan as a character and a narrator.  He told the story very well, but that’s just it—he TOLD the story.  I rarely felt like I was actually IN the story experiencing it with our narrator.  Which is fine.  Some people prefer to read books that are written in this way.  But I like feelings, and I just… felt nothing, when it came to Father O’Ryan.  Especially when it came to his feelings for Courtney Martin.  He told us about them, but I didn’t feel anything between them.  I wanted some tension, whether or not it was sexual!  Sure, he’s a priest, but he’s also a human.  In any case, that was the one thing I had trouble with.  The plot was fascinating.

Having grown up in a small town, I totally understand the mob mentality thing.  I don’t remember anything drastic happening, not like turning on a priest, but in high school, there were some incidents where everyone turned on a single person.  At the time, I thought it was just high school, but now that I’m on the outside looking in, I could see where it could happen in adulthood, too.  People who grow up in small towns and then stay there—they stick together.  It’s just life.  And this book captures that slice of small town life perfectly.

What’s the moral of all of this?  READ THIS BOOK.  It is truly fascinating.  Parts of it are a bit disturbing (trigger warning—the book discusses some instances of sexual abuse of children by priests), but the overall plotline is internal for Father O’Ryan.  I, personally, enjoyed the book immensely.  Go read it!

-A.

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