Spiders, Hearts, and Knives


Publisher: iUniverse Pages: 1188 Price: (paperback) $38.95 ISBN: 9781663221353 Reviewed: July, 2023 Author Website: Visit »

The pseudonymous DISTXRT8D WALLPAP3R’s shelf-bending release is an adventure fantasy that follows Paul White—proverbial outsider and prophesized savior—as he embarks on an epic quest to find a mythical object that will save the realm from eventual annihilation.

White’s parents knew he was unique the day he was born: “His eyes were humongous, he had coarse spiked orange hair, a weird mole between his eyes, and his skin was very pale.” But his uniqueness made him a target of bullies, who, in his senior year of high school, lured him into a secluded corn field where they brutally beat him to death.

Awakening in a purgatorial realm, White befriends a giant spider named Roxanne Rose—the Grim Reaper’s pet—and, at the behest of Death himself, they set out on a journey to find an all-powerful object and keep it from falling into the wrong hands. Along the way, White not only gains revenge on his murderers but finally begins to understand who he is and embrace his place in the world.

While the action is fast and furious, the story suffers from a conspicuous lack of significant description, character depth, or thematic weight. White’s journey goes from one scene to the next without deep exploration or explanation. As a result, the various sequences soon blur together.

Additionally, the world-building is paper-thin and uninspired; the planet of Aclysys is essentially the modern-day world featuring surreal, fantasy destinations once White is a ghost. The dating is even the same (ex: “July 11th, 1955”).

Lastly, the superficial writing style details events without exposition: “…Paul and Roxy collectively changed into a fire hydrant instead, and sat there for a long moment. The old man got tired of waiting and died…”

Sadly, the book’s size, which could have easily been trimmed to a more accessible length, and the absence of the aforementioned narrative elements make for a two-dimensional, emotionally detached, and rambling story that misses the mark.

Also available in hardcover and ebook.