Review: Untold Story
by Dennis Leroy Stilwell
Today I'm reviewing the book Untold Story by Dennis Leroy Stilwell.
This book is pure fiction: a novel. In my review of William Buhlman's Adventures In The Afterlife I mentioned that I am primarily a nonfiction reader and how I burned myself out on visionary fiction. Now I only read fiction occasionally and reluctantly because it seems like such a waste of time to read "something that's made up" when there are so many good nonfiction books out there. Why did I read this one? Mostly because the author, Dennis Leroy Stilwell, sent me a review copy and asked me to review it, and I never turn down books. He insisted that it prominently featured out-of-body experiences throughout the story, and so it did.
I wasn't too excited about diving into a novel, but I started reading it anyway. As the pages flew by, something strange happened. Although it wasn't as engaging, powerful or riveting as some novels, I found myself somehow drawn in. Deep down in my soul, I somehow felt like I was meant to read this book, and that its message was meant for me. I can't explain it. I kept being drawn back to it, and I enjoyed it to the very end.
The story centers around Alex and Patricia (as well as several peripheral characters) who work at a rural zoo. Lately, they've had several camels miscarry, and Alex gets blamed for the deaths. In search of answers, Alex goes to New Guinea where he meets a local shaman (known as a "glas man") called "Gapa" and his apprentice, a boy named Pida. There, Alex learns out-of-body travel and other important lessons.
The characters were colorful and believable. Part of what I found so fascinating about this book is the author's descriptions of New Guinea, its culture, customs and its unique kind of shamanism. I've done a lot of international travel and even met shamans in the jungles of Peru, but I've never been to New Guinea.
I never candy-coat my feelings in these reviews, so I have to be honest: Although they kept recurring throughout the book, the OBEs were just a little bit flat and lackluster. They were an important part of some scenes, but only features of the story, and not the book's primary focus.
The good news is that the book was well written. The writing was mature, seasoned and professional, although I did find one or two mistakes. The bad news is that there were some scene transitions that weren't very smooth.
The first problem I had with this book is that there wasn't enough tension or conflict between the characters. Many of the characters just agreed with one another and there was little show of emotions. Although there was some, there could have been more banter. The second problem is that there wasn't enough conflict. The author didn't focus enough on the bad guys, their motivations or goals. The evil wasn't evil enough. In that respect, it felt kind of like a "Chick Flick" at times. There was "enough" conflict, but if there had been more, it would have been a better book. It could have used more plot twists too.
I did enjoy this book. Like I said; I felt repeatedly drawn to it. The OBEs in the story were enough to keep me interested. I especially liked it for the fascinating glimpses into New Guinea culture and shamanism (the one thing that all flavors of shamanism have in common is OBEs).
If you're looking for other novels that focus more on OBEs (rather than just a feature of the story), I also recommend:
- The House Between The Worlds by Marion Zimmer Bradley (a fantasy novel about a scientist who stumble on a drug that induces OBEs and leads to the discovery of a parallel dimension.)
- Flying In Place by Susan Palwick (about a woman who uses OBEs to escape from an abusive situation), or
- Nightflyer by Christopher Fahy (a young adult novel about a teen who uses OBEs to exact his revenge on the bullies who pick on him).
01 September 2015