Last week, I announced the release of John Dolan’s second book in his Time, Blood and Karma series called Hungry Ghosts.
I enjoyed a short trip away from the city and had a couple of days to read the book. You can find my review below and on:
The “anti-hero” is a character archetype that dates back to the tragedies of Greek theatre. Unlike the traditional hero who is morally upright, the anti-hero usually has a flawed moral character, more interested in getting the job done than doing it ethically. Sometimes, the flaws are simply human failings as determined by a conventional society—a philanderer, an alcoholic, a smoker.
I don’t believe in heroes, but I believe in David Braddock, the enigmatic anti-hero who returns in John Dolan’s latest release, Hungry Ghosts.
Everyone Burns, which launched the Time, Blood and Karma series, captivated me based on the strength of its characters. I invested in their lives and wanted to know more about their connections to one other. Along with discovering how morally ambiguous human beings can be, I found myself immersed in a sophisticated plot of intrigue in beautiful Thailand.
Hungry Ghosts expands on and refines the characterization. Many familiar faces return, and this time, we hear their voices through their own lens. The switch from David Braddock’s first person viewpoint in Everyone Burns to multiple points of view in this book had to be a challenge to write. It could easily have turned into a “dog’s breakfast” in the hands of a lesser writer.
So, how does Mr. Dolan get away with it?
He imbues each character with just enough detail to reel us in, and then he allows them to speak. Whether he is speaking as the power-hungry Thai Police Chief, the demure Balinese housekeeper, or the playful English sister-in-law, the transitions are seamless and the voices, believable. The recurring theme of hungry ghosts (in its many iterations) haunts everyone, reinforces karmic interconnectivity, and moves the story forward.
Multiple plot threads are dangled, and at the nexus of it all hangs David Braddock. Though still a smarty-pants, he has tempered somewhat. In other words, he has matured.
Characters who emanate moral purity don’t ring true to us any more, if they ever did. It’s not who we see around us, and I dare say, neither is it who we see when we look in the mirror. The longer we live, the more we realize how fragile humanity is. Sometimes it feels broken.
David Braddock feels broken too, but we desperately wish to see him healed. We cheer for him and want him to succeed because of his human frailties, not in spite of them.
Hungry Ghosts is seductive and exotic, yet easily accessible because of its unforgettable anti-hero.
I applaud Mr. Dolan for creating David Braddock. I can’t wait to find out what he does next.
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If you missed my interview with John earlier this year, you can find it here.