"McFall" Book Review
Written by Michel Sabourin
Published by 47North
Written by Scott Nicholson
2013, 420 pages, Fiction
Released on September 3, 2013
I was previously unaware of the works of Scott Nicholson. I aim to change that now. After reading McFall, I definitely want to read more of Nicholson’s work. McFall centers around the machinations and intrigues of a small town in North Carolina. The usual stories of who’s seeing who on the sly, who’s the town drunk, who’s getting lucky and getting out, etc. play out against sinister background character Larkin McFall’s plots to take back family lands. But some ghosts and some secrets won’t stay buried, and some people can’t be bought at any price.
I really like Nicholson’s style. McFall is an easy read, but not simplistic at all; a very casual storytelling style from a natural born storyteller. It has a very homespun feel I like in my writers. You can breeze through the story, and the plot is complex without being convoluted. The protagonist, Ronnie, is a very real feeling character that you can easily empathize with and care for, while the evil McFall, eerily reminiscent of the Leland Gaunt character from Stephen King’s Needful Things, plays at pulling his (and everyone else’s) strings to give in to his desires. McFall promises the world, but Ronnie is doubtful. Can he remain strong and faithful enough to resist?
Amidst all this is the ghost of a scandalous town history involving all the old families, including the nefarious Archer McFall, whose bloody history in the town leaves a trail of literal ghosts in his wake. While we are never granted a full look into that past, we’re given enough clues to know it was bad, and deadly, and that Ronnie and his family were lucky to survive, but are not without their emotional scars. I’m intrigued enough by that story alone to want to read The Red Church to find out what happened. So Nicholson is good at selling his other works here too.
FAIR WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD…
Really… last warning.
One of the things I like the most about “McFall” is the ending. It will be frustrating to those expecting everything to wrap up in a nice neat bow, but it plays perfectly. It’s left purposely ambiguous, allowing the reader to make their own inferences to outcome, but also leaves it open enough to revisit if the story is continued. No happy ending. No really unhappy ending either. There are losses and sacrifices. There are compromises of morals and beliefs. There is a sense that, to paraphrase Ecclesiastes and Battlestar Galactica, “All of this has happened before and will happen again.” But Ronnie never wholly gives in and never wholly gives up; leading us to believe that someday McFall will get a comeuppance. McFall, however, has been a step ahead of Ronnie the entire time and know it’s coming, so it could go either way, depending on your philosophical bent.
I recommend picking up McFall. Even better, it’s currently only $3.99 on Amazon’s Kindle reader and worth every penny and more. Jump on it while the price is low.