Life has a hard way of taking its toll on you when you do not expect it. Sid Carver lived in a world he created to justify his actions even though they are wrong. The author created Sid after so many other men, but Sid had his oddities. He loves snakes and keeps a dangerous one in his house. One so dangerous that when fed it could attack and kill its owner at a whim. Sid was married to Lydia with two children each having a unique name. Lydia owned Sid’s lock stock and barrel and gave him his home, job, money, and business. But Sid needed more. He needed someone to make him feel unique and special and that would be Gwen. She turns out to be what her fantasies are his perfect match yet toxic. The author weaves a tale that helps readers get to know Sid when he’s younger, his friend Marty and how he became so enthralled with snakes. Life took on a new meaning for Sid when dealing with his lover but not everything goes the way he planned. He and Gwen parted ways, and her sister calls saying one of her parents died and she would think he should attend the funeral. Blindsided by Bertie her sister the events at this funeral were the first stage of failure for Sid as the violent reaction of Gwen, the people there, the clergy, and the unfortunate accidental assault of the altar boy landing him in jail and losing not only his job, his life, his kids but his wife and money too. This brings us to the present where he works a construction site under Henry a friend of his ex-wife, the indignities he faces and more will make you wonder how he deals with day-to-day life.
Events are highly volatile as the author weaves back and forth to Sid and his friendships growing up, his love of the woods, trees, and how he enjoyed his solitude. When he lost his father, and his mother was placed in a facility with dementia he did what he can to visit her but more out of obligation than love. Lydia plays a solid role in his life but can be hardnosed and cruel throwing it up to him about all she did to save him from himself and after a while, he does not want to hear it. His son has distanced himself and his daughter still cares about him but someone new comes into his life and his world is about to turn dangerous.
Holly Tithe moved into his building across the hall and an unusual friendship began. Trying to be more of a friend at times she isolated herself from him and everyone else. Uncovering their pasts, sharing their goals, and yet hiding certain facts was the basis of their odd relationship. She was into music and a past band, he into insurance, construction site worker, and just staying afloat. Sid was dangerous and yet protective of Holly but when Henry crosses him, Lydia reminds him of his faults and more your wonder just how far he’ll go for revenge. Henry bought the property that was important to him to create something he felt would bring people and money to the area. He offered Sid the job to oversee this, but Sid would not even blink an eye and his response says it all. Snakes are his passion and his friend Marty had just the one to take out Henry, but you won’t believe the scene that unfolds. His friendship with Holly blooms until someone comes into her life but not before we meet another girl who was shunned, cast aside, and in the end, you won’t believe what happens when a woman is scorned. Mindy Baransky would not give up on Steve Schaff and managed to call his company pretending that she was returning his calls. Anger reared its ugly head, vengeance, and the voices she heard let you know that Mindy would not give up until she got what she wanted.
Holly meets this same man and her friendship with Sid falls apart and he realizes that Steve is dangerous, controlling her movements and her life and he needs something to take care of him and eliminate him. Threats are made, lives are held in the balance and Sid often loses his perspective in life and his choices are not always sound. We learn more about his son and why he does not want him in his life as opposed to his daughter. Acceptance comes hard and Sid falls as he gets something to rid the world of Henry and you won’t believe the outcome. Snakes are dangerous and the author allows readers to take the tour of the Reptile expo with Holly and Sid learning about the various kinds of snakes, venomous, poisonous, and more and the research had to be plentiful. The scenes are unique, the snakes are dangerous and when Sweetpea attacks Henry you hold your breath and hope that someone comes to save him in time.
The author brings us inside the mind of a man who is filled with turmoil, strife, guilt, and uncertainty as to where he wants to be and where his life is going. But, in his reality, he does not always see the harm in what he does until it’s too late. The scene with Steve, the one with Henry allows readers to know how creative the author is in giving us chilling effects, frightening solutions, and fear. The final reveal in the epilogue lets you know that his past is about to come back in the future, but you won’t believe how or why.
A story that is compelling, heartbreaking, heartwarming and terrifying, and inspirational to a point. Author William Donahue takes us inside the mind of a man whose life is turned upside down crawling on his belly the days of his life until he just might be able to stand tall.
Fran Lewis Just reviews