Kelland: A Novel
by Paul G. Bens Jr.
Casperian Books, 2009;
252 pages; $15.00
A journey to the truth is described in the novel Kelland by Paul G. Bens Jr. The road taken by five strangers is long and full of conflict; their guide is a supernatural being named Kelland who appears in various forms to become close enough to these people to be their confidant.
Bens doesn’t follow a direct timeline – he bounces back and forth over a period from 1975 to 1998 to reveal a character’s flaws and strengths. This technique draws the reader into the tale with great effect. By not telling the story in chronological order, Bens sets up a shocking truth in all their lives at the end.
These characters are relatable, even Minh and Toan from Vietnam. Bens balances vivid description and omissions left to the imagination of the reader very well. The various settings from Vietnam, Kentucky, and California add to the richness and depth of the story. Bens avoids stereotypes which focuses the reader on each individual. The author is masterful in switching points of view from the boys George and Lucas, the woman Melanie, and Toan and Minh, both as boys and men.
Bens’ style of writing seems to flow across the pages and his use of language and strong characterization is reminiscent of Stephen King. The horror in Kelland is ripped from the headlines, yet is presented in a fresh, original manner. The supernatural being Kelland is left as an enigma, part of the symbolism used to enhance the story. Bens’ immense talent is showcased in this outstanding novel and he is an author to watch.
Reviewed by Karen L. Newman