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Marrow’s Pit by Keith Deininger – Review
Built to encompass the entire range of lifeless mountains, it had always, relentlessly, clanked on and on. Within, vast halls and endless corridors were filled with the sounds of metal on metal, with hissing steam, with squealing gears. In the eyes of its citizens, it was sacred, deified, omniscient. Enshrined in their mythology for innumerable generations, it had gone by countless designations, but its truest name was perhaps its plainest: the Machine.
For Ballard, the Machine is a place of tedium, and ignorance, and cruelty. He sees little use in his mundane job and secretly questions the purpose of the Machine. When tragedy strikes, Ballard is forced to embark on a paranoid journey that will take him outside of the Machine, and everything he’s ever known, over the edge into darkness, past the point of no return…toward the blackness known as Marrow’s Pit.
What I expected: I expected a journey away from an old life and into a new one. Perhaps a little adventure and discovery along the way with maybe a bit of exploration into the Machine itself – why is it there, what is its purpose?
What I got: I got a completely unexpected story of a man who has no idea what to do with the life he has made for himself because he hates it but does not know how to change it.
What I liked: I liked that the story was short.
What I did not: I don’t think this story was meant for me. I did not realize what kind of story I would be getting, based upon the synopsis. And the story I got, I genuinely did not like. I was happy that it was short. I did not like that the machine was both a home and a religion. I did not like that the story was really nothing like what I expected and that the Machine itself played no real role – it was backdrop alone. The principle plot of this story could have happened anywhere, anytime and had no need of the fantastical setting. I was also not fond of any of the characters – the main was a dishrag, his wife a jerk, and his best friend a tool. Everyone else seemed full of either hate or indifference.
Cover talk: I like the cover, and it is part of why I picked this one up to read the synopsis. It is attractive and draws in readers but combined with the blurb is a bit misleading.
Recommendation? I would only recommend this to people who enjoy uncomfortably grim and brutal stories about human frailties and shortcomings. There is no happy ending and no possibility of a happy ending for anyone from the beginning.