Title: The Vagabond King
Author: James Conway
Publication Date: September 2011
Format: E-Book - PDF
Genre: Literary Fiction / YA?
Source: Review Copy from Author
When his mother dies and he discovers the man he believed was his father is not, sixteen year old Chris is haunted by a mysterious apparition that forces him to question his pampered existence and embark upon a quest to find himself. Hoping she will “make a man of him”, he seeks sanctuary in the home of Magda, a middle aged waitress with a penchant for sex, only to discover she lives with her father, a cigarette smoking, beer swilling immigrant.
Chris hates his shabby new surroundings at the end of the street and the shabby old man at the end of his life who spends his days listening to old blues records and making Chris fetch him fresh cans of beer. But, when the old man tells tales of Communism, torture, escape and the mysterious medallion he wears, Chris learns that, like the old man’s skipping records, history repeats itself and the roles we play have been played many times before. (Goodreads Synopsis)
I received a review copy of this book from the author and here are my thoughts on it:
I had some initial trouble with this piece as the PDF had some formatting issues and it was impossible to read it on my Kobo and not give myself a headache. That meant I had to read it on the computer in dribs and drabs.
I found it difficult to really engage with the story, but I dislike reading on the computer screen and so I am taking that into account as it may have been that, rather than the book itself, that gave me problems.
That said, I am still giving this book three stars because I liked the way mythology was blended into the story and it was interesting to see how Chris related those stories to his own world. I also enjoyed the ending which had a twist I hadn't seen coming.
As a character, I found Chris a bit whiny and annoying, but we do still see some growth and change in him during the piece and that helped make this coming-of-age tale work.