Mr. Tender’s Girl: Carter Wilson
Enter the world of three different people and understand each one has his/her perception of reality, life’s experiences and their past. As you meet each of these three victims of different yet similar circumstances you will also encounter and endure the obstacles that each one hoped to overcome. What would happen if you were a young girl age 14 and you were stabbed and left for dead by two cruel teen girls? Convicted of the crime does not negate the panic attacks, the fears and the alienation this young person has felt even today as an adult. The father of this young girl who was brutally attacked bases their attack on a popular graphic novel series called Mister Tender created. Mr. Tender is depicted in the panels of this novel as a bartender whose powers of either suggestion or some spell would create situations where his customers would feel compelled to do horrific things. This novel, Mr. Tender destroyed not only Alice Hill our young 14 year old at the time of the attack but her father who was murdered too.
Thomas Hill, her brother was close to her as a child and their father read to them every night from a novel called Chancellor’s Kingdom which was a place filled with gravestones, ruins and quite eerie and mystical to say the least. The hero of the story is a penguin named Ferdinand whose message to both Alice and Thomas are quite relevant even today. Never trust anyone! So why did they trust him: his response: Maybe you shouldn’t! Interesting !
Alice’s mother when you meet her will present a third perspective on her was she calls it ruined life being married to this graphic artist who created this comic. Angry at the world, difficult to mediate with and both Alice and Thomas just wanting her to let them be free of her control and life a better life, she is relentless and angry glad that their father is gone. But, can you hide form your past? Will it someday come back to remind you that you can never escape? Alice Hill moved to Manchester, New Hampshire escaping London and the scene of what happened to her. From the start of the novel you realize that escaping and starting a new life is what she does buying The Rose a quaint coffee shop and really loving what she does but something will trigger her fears because Mr. Tender seems to be out there even though he does not exist. A simple encounter with a stranger that she takes down lets you know that there is much more in store for Alice as she thinks he mouths the words I’ll BE SEEING YOU! Before fleeing the gym.
If you could be like Peter Pan and Wendy and fly away to Never Never Land and feel free and unafraid would you? The Penguin takes Alice and Thomas the children depicted in the story to this place wanting them to learn lessons in life about trust, deceit and fear that they might not learn without their father’s rendition of this haunting place. In the present we realize that someone is following Alice and that her ability to stave off panic attacks and her fears take more than just resting, meditating and reliving the experiences that create this fear. Coming into her coffee shop that stranger that she thinks has been sent to her by Jimmy his or her mutual friend spooks her even more when he says no one sent me I sent me. Scary, frightening and the unknown and the truth behind him has yet to be revealed. Doing what Mr. Tender instructs you to do is what so many will relate but can this make believe character really be coming to life in the present? Can someone turn you into something evil?
Reliving her past through this book that was sent to her coffee shop which graphically depicts on the pages where there are drawings her childhood with her brother Thomas with pictures that let the reader know that this person or entity exists and has repainted her entire real world in the present. Where did this recap start when she revisits a dating site that she joined and from then on her life would unravel and one of the dating matches calls himself: MR. TENDER!
The same stranger enters her coffee shop and threatens her very existence and freedom claiming she is responsible for stealing a huge amount of money from this drug dealer but in reality is it possible he’s a liar and just wants to blackmail her? Using Google and clearly shaken up the author has Alice on the web where she makes some startling revelations about the twins that attacked her, their current status of being paroled early and then more frightening a bio of her present life. Who is behind this and will Alice Hill/AKA Alice Gray now find out before it’s too late?
Carter Wilson’s writing is so crisp, fine and graphically and emotionally depicted that the reader can often experience the panic attacks along with Alice, her frustrations and fears just by reading the words and then closing your eyes to replay the scenes in your mind. While reading these scenes we are reminded that Alice has visual scars as a result of the attack but also emotional ones that cannot be seen yet we know they are there each time she speaks with her mother and brother or relates information about her attacks. Sometimes what you cannot see is more powerful than what you can. But, the drug dealer named Sparks finds her, threatens her and when Thomas finds his way to his sister’s house they both react and respond to the threats behind this man’s motive to destroy her and what happens next will change it all as her tenant Richard an ER nurse now becomes part of their plot and plan while their mother reacts in a violent and then passive way to get control over Thomas and Alice.
Alice becomes paranoid as she falls deeper into the hole that someone is digging for her and before all is said and done and some harsh realities are revealed will she fall so far down and not be able to stand up again? Fear is what stands in her way as she realizes that the Glassin twins are no longer in jail visiting her father might shed some light on them. Going to see them she realizes that there is much more to the story and that although the prison thinks they have changed she realizes that nothing has. Charlie Glassin missed his daughters and realizes that he might be better off without out them. For over 14 years Alice has relived that Halloween night and now in the present she is determined to uncover who is stalking her, why and how this person knows her every move. Richard her tenant seems to really care for her and when she is threatened by Sparks, the drug dealer and Jimmy her ex-boyfriend their demise will surprise you as to who takes them down.
Some scars and fears never go away and when Alice takes a trip to London and sees the Glassin twins it sparks another journey to see their mother Maggie and what she learns will illuminate the lies, the deceits, the betrayals and unlock a fury within her that might never be tamed. But, someone close to her proves to be more than what she has known and what Ferdinand the Penguin says: Never trust anyone and if you do don’t should have forewarned her that someone right in plain sight wants to do more than emulate her.
As you hear the voice of Mr. Tender, learn his true identity, realize the danger that someone has placed Alice as she is held captive, flashes back to a time with her father thinking he is there to protect and save her. Mr. Tender is a cartoon comic character that she thought was made up in her father’s imagination. What is real? Who is real? Who can she trust? Listen to the words of the penguin as he takes Thomas and Alice to places within Chancellor’s Kingdom and fly high in the sky, escape reality and hope that all your hidden fears, deepest anxieties and terrors will vanish. Margaret Glassin lives within her own world and her own realm of freedom but when Alice asks questions about her parents and their relationship with her family the answers and the truth will shatter her world and shake her to the core. But, is what she tells her the truth? Why did her father create Mr. Tender? Who was his aiming for? What transformed her mother into something demonic, controlling and evil justifying her actions and hoping others would pity her for her struggles and plight.
Author Carson Wilson weaves an intricate plot so delicate and fragile like the web of a spider who is weaving and weaving hoping that the thread won’t break and shatter into a million pieces like that of piece of fragile cut glass. Alice Hill will she ever open her eyes and see the world clearly and live free of fear?
Revenge, retribution, jealousies, lies, betrayals, deceits, hate, obsessions, fear and hope to become whole again are all major issues within this complex, spine chilling novel that we keep you riveted to the printed page until you the reader like Alice learns not to trust anyone because you just don’t. Mr. Tender’s Girl: before you enter the pages and read this five star novel beware and understand that you too might fall prey to Mr. Interested or Mr. Tender and be careful you don’t want to be Mr. Tender’s next girl. A mystery thriller with a touch of the macabre a novel I started and would not put down until I learned and read the dramatic conclusion. Alice: WILL YOU EVER BE FREE?
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine