Book Review — Shepherd of the Black Sheep

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Here is a book I wasn’t sure that I would like. I had a stack of books to review and my weekend was running short so I took a chance with this smallish 170-page dark piece of fiction. I instantly liked Tom Hardgrave. He is hardworking and struggling to his small Vermont ranch open in a time of large mega-corporations. He and I share a respect for the older days:

“Sometimes it seemed like America’s authenticity had been replaced by shiny plastic and easily-replaced gizmos, all of it cheap and uninspired, soulless and without heart.”

At 65, I like his connection to the past. Ten-year-old kids should be outside playing and not spending all day on their phones. Tom Finds out what ten-year-old wants to do nowadays after taking custody of his ten-year-old granddaughter, Paige.

Paige is a quiet and seemingly withdrawn child. Paige has one close friend Alice. If the trauma of losing her parents were not enough for Paige, would soon experience the loss of her only friend. Paige and Alice created a world of stories in the land of Sopheria. It is a land of good and evil and perhaps akin to games or worlds like Dungeons and Dragons or a fantasy series.

Life goes on fairly normal, all things considered, until Alice is violently killed in front of Paige. There is a slow but steady implosion of the town and with it Tom Hargraves world. Suddenly, Tom Hardgrave’s world crumbles around him.

The story runs on several levels and the characters create levels or pieces in the overall picture. Age, psychology, business, and small-town life all combine and in a story that is difficult to put down. The shortness of the novel is not an indicator of the size of the story. Extremely well done and definitely worth the read.

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