July 5, 2017 at 6:00 pm (Reads) (, , )

reunionReunion by Rick Hautala


I tried re-reading Rick Hautala’s books last year, but gave up on them three books into his bibliography. They weren’t that substantial, and I questioned his portrayal of women in his stories, so I moved on to other writers. This year, I discovered I had a novella of his among my e-books, and figured I would give him another shot.

Reunion is the story of a young boy, thirteen, who’s out camping with his best friend when they get it into their head to crash a party out at the country club. Parallel to this story is one involving John, a man in his mid-forties who’s desperately trying to attend his class reunion. The two stories intersect in strange ways, and Jackie, the thirteen-year old, is given much to consider.

This isn’t a horror story, though it has some supernatural elements to it that probably make it fantasy, though even that is a judicious use of the term. Hautala has to bring his two main characters together, and he uses the simplest method possible to do it. The story isn’t about its fantasy, though; it’s about the lesson Jackie has to learn.

One of Hautala’s skills is in capturing the emotions of his characters (I still have a vivid memory of how menacing a croquet mallet was in Dark Silence), and he uses them to great effect in this story. We have to understand John’s emotions to understand his part in the story, and we have to understand Jackie’s emotions to understand the consequences of the events, and we get them through the story. That the story is a little underwhelming isn’t the fault of the emotions as much as it is the structure of the story.

Hautala spends a lot of time creating John, the adult character, though the structure suggests he’s a bit of an incidental character. The story starts out alternating chapters between Jackie and John, but once John has served his purpose, his chapters stop, even though we’re only about halfway through the novella. I expected the novella to maintain that structure, so it was odd when it veered off in a different direction. It’s necessary to get John’s point of view to get the whole story, but how Hautala incorporates the two stories doesn’t feel natural.

Reunion shows me I shouldn’t dismiss Hautala due to his earlier works, but neither does it make me want to run out and read everything else he wrote. I have a couple of his later novels in my to-read stack, which I still plan to read, but beyond that, I’m just not that interested. Maybe those other novels will change my mind (especially if they’re structured more naturally).

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