THE WARBLERS (Eraserhead Press, 2017) by Amber Fallon is a novella that surprised me. After reading her novella, THE TERMINAL (Flesh Pulp Press, 2016), I thought I knew what to expect (horror, lots of action-filled horror), but with THE WARBLERS, Fallon takes a different approach.
"Don't be a fool, boy. Graveyard's full up with fools."
The story is a coming-of-age yarn from the point of view of a 14-year-old boy named, Dell. Dell's family's farm is in danger from a group of vicious birds (the Warblers) that have taken up residence behind their shed. Dell's pa decides to call for a "special" kind of help to eradicate the problem. That's the gist of the tale, but within, there are so many nice bits and beats.
"I thought of the horses in front of my uncle's carriage and how they had looked on smelling the warblers. I imagine we must've looked about the same way."
I recently read THE BOTTOMS by Joe. R Lansdale, and I picked up a very similar vibe from Fallon's story. That's a fantastic compliment to the author. I was impressed with her style, her patience, and her ability to put together such a well-rounded story, full of characters and heart.
As with the aforementioned Lansdale book, THE WARBLERS isn't really a horror story, and that's okay. It's a great piece of fiction, a wonderfully surprising novella that shows Fallon's fearless versatility.
I would liked to have seen more of the viscous birds, but I know we can't always get what we want. Oh, and the handler's (you'll know who I'm talking about when you read this book) were totally worthy of more book time, too. See, sometimes the problem is that the author creates so much goodness, we want more. That's a good thing.
I give THE WARBLERS 4-4.5 stars.
Definitely recommend this one to people who like great storytelling.