Juniper – Ross Jeffery
Reviewed by Steve Stred
“Those on the outskirts were left to fend for themselves.”
One trope that I find hard to sometimes dive into is post-apocalyptic stories. Far too often we end up going down the same narrative and we get some cookie-cutter characters that have to struggle to survive and meet bad people along the way.
Juniper by Ross Jeffery is here to throw that idea out the window.
Ross contacted me to see if I’d be willing to give this book a read and maybe blurb it and after reading it, I am stunned with how good of a book this is. Easily one of the best books I’ve read this year.
What’s it about?
Well in the not so distant future, it no longer rains. The residents of small-town Juniper struggle to survive. Food is scarce, the heat –unbearable.
And so it goes, we get introduced to the elderly Betty, one of the most enjoyable characters I’ve experienced in some time. She lives far on the outskirts and has to rely on roadkill to make sure she doesn’t starve.
Along the way, Jeffery introduces a few other characters and we quickly learn that not all that we see on the surface is how things are.
This book moves along at breakneck speed and I found I became so engrossed in it that I had to find out just what came next.
This is the beautifully disfigured child of Kealan Patrick Burke’s ‘Kin’ and Ania Ahlborn’s ‘Brother.’
This book is deeply unsettling, horrific over and over again, but also tender and gentle.
This all comes back to just how deft of a writer Jeffery is. I’ve only read a few short stories of his from an upcoming anthology from The Writing Collective, but let me tell you –he writes like the best of them.
The ending is highly cathartic in a way that will make you smile but also question what comes next.
Let’s hope Jeffery will tell us.
Juniper is the first book in Ross Jeffery’s novella trilogy: a post-apocalyptic horror about an insane American town seemingly at the edge of reality. As Juniper suffers from scorching drought and medieval famine, the townsfolk are forced to rely on the ‘new cattle’ for food: monstrous interbred cats kept by the oppressed Janet Lehey.
But there’s a problem: Janet’s prized ginger tom, Bucky, has gone missing, flown the coop. As Janet and her deranged ex-con husband Klein intensify their search for the hulking mongrel, Betty Davis, an old woman clinging to survival on the outskirts of Juniper, discovers something large and ginger and lying half-dead by the side of the road.
She decides to take it home…
Juniper is surreal, dark, funny, and at times: excruciatingly grotesque. Buckle up for a wild ride through the dust-ridden roads of a tiny, half-forgotten American town…
Steve Stred writes dark, bleak horror fiction.
Steve is the author of the novels Invisible & The Stranger, the novellas The Girl Who Hid in the Trees, Wagon Buddy, Yuri and Jane: the 816 Chronicles and two collections of short stories; Frostbitten: 12 Hymns of Misery and Left Hand Path: 13 More Tales of Black Magick, and the dark poetry collection Dim the Sun.
On September 1st, 2019 his second collection of dark poetry and drabbles called The Night Crawls In will arrive. This release was specifically created to help fund the 1st Annual LOHF Writers Grant.
Steve is also a voracious reader, reviewing everything he reads and submitting the majority of his reviews to be featured on Kendall Reviews.
Steve Stred is based in Edmonton, AB, Canada and lives with his wife, his son and their dog OJ.
You can follow Steve on Twitter @stevestred
You can visit Steve’s Official website here