By Peter Molnar
Powerful and disturbing
Will Bentley is an Iraq War veteran turned Pulitzer Prize winner after his military memoir, I Can Hear the Shi’ite Weeping, propels him to seemingly overnight literary stardom. But Will craves nothing more than a quiet, uneventful life spent with his longtime girlfriend, Mina, and Alberta (“Albie”), a big German Shepherd Will adopted after discovering the destitute animal on a tour of duty.
Albie is like a child to Will and Mina, an indispensable member of their small family. She is also an animal haunted by her horrid experiences at the hands of abusers during her time spent in a ravaged Iraqi province. Will is of the belief that “love heals all” and spares none when it comes to his faithful companion.
It’s a good life for Will and his girls in the rural, sleepy Pennsylvania town of Comstock…
But they say you never really know who your neighbors are…
Neighbors like Stella Post, a kept, agoraphobic twenty-something who lives a quarter mile north of Will’s farmhouse. Stella’s husband Jack, a serial cheater and abuser, who has made it a game of chipping away at her sanity by slow degrees. Stella has been keeping a secret correspondence with a sociopathic “old flame” named Karl Tarlick, who is serving time in prison for unspeakable crimes. Stella Post’s life is one of hidden misery and madness until her “old flame” is released from prison. Tarlick promises to deliver Stella from her suffering and to help her exact vengeance upon her unfaithful husband. A revenge that is tailor-made for a man as cruel as Jack Post.
Broken Birds is a story of two families set on a blistering collision course with one another.
When Stella and her sociopathic lover abduct Will’s faithful companion, Albie, to use for their own devilish purposes, it becomes a race against the clock. To deliver Albie from her captors, looking to exploit the dog’s own inner demons. To save innocent lives. To save the ones he loves. Can Will Bentley protect his family from the strangers down the lane before they cost him everything?
When I got the opportunity to review Broken Birds by Peter Molnar, I was understandably excited. He is a talented writer. I thought this novel would be a nice diversion from everything else going on in my world. The only thing it diverted me from was my sanity.
This is a gut-wrenching, mind-crushing story.
Broken Birds is a powerful novel that blurs the lines of genre and subgenre. The tension and suspense are brutal, much like the subject matter. Don’t let the synopsis blurb fool you. This is much more than a revenge tale or psychological thriller or combination thereof. Peter Molnar takes real life horrors and expertly weaves them together on a loom of vivid characters, adding a thread of the supernatural to keep you guessing; always guessing. This is not a predictable story.
This is a disturbing story.
This is a horror story.
Let me be honest about two things here. Broken Birds is compelling to the point where interruptions often infuriated me. But, at the same time, I had to put it down a few times to clear my head. It is that impactful and disturbing. Molnar gets you right in the gut with this one.
There is so much more I want to say, but I abhor spoilers and don’t want to risk it. The synopsis gives you the basics, but you have to experience it to appreciate it.
Five Stars for this shelf worthy novel. I look forward to more from Peter Molnar.
Get it on Amazon: Broken Birds
About the Author: Peter Molnar
Peter Molnar is an author, singer-songwriter, musician, educator, and editor. His short stories have appeared in City Slab: Urban Tales of the Grotesque, Necrotic Shorts, Hydrophobia: A Charity Anthology to Benefit Hurricane Harvey Victims, and the upcoming Tenebrous Tales Anthology. His blog, “As the Shadow Stirs,” is a mashup of music, movies, horror, and superheroes and can be found on his home webpage. Broken Birds is his debut novel. He lives and works in Southeastern Pennsylvania with his wife, daughter, and two cats. Currently, he is at work on his next book and a slew of new short entries.