HOWUL: A Life’s Journey by David Shannon

I was very lucky to receive a copy of HOWUL: A Life’s Journey, by David Shannon. There is a flurry of excitement for this book and I’m happy to support an indie press.

HOWUL is totally unique by its special language and dialect in the book. Immediately, I can tell you you won’t read another book like this! David Shannon has meticulously crafted his own language, maintained in full throughout. It made me sit up and concentrate and immerse myself fully in the book.

Blanow is home to Howul and his daughter Erin. It is a place where seemingly everything is deadly, or maybe it’s just Howul. Life as a healer has no shortage of patients, though his track record is somewhat hit and miss! In Blanow, books are dangerous and bad, and Howul learns to read and write in secret. When he challenges the rules, Howul is throw out of Blanow and begins a journey in the wilderness beyond.

Plenty of parts made me smile, and this is a book with smart wit. Some of Howul’s healing advice made me chuckle: the remedy for a knee that wobbles when bending it… is to stop bending it. This is exactly the kind of dad-advice I receive: “My arm hurts when I press it here.” …. “Well stop pressing it then!”

Being in a post-apocalyptic dystopian world in which books are considered dangerous and mistrustful, made me consider the importance of storytelling and folklore. There are references to Romaro and Jewel, and Macdeth. While this may in part be David’s design of his original language, it made me think about how books preserve stories and history. Without books, over time the stories change and twist and turn as we see so often with the retelling of folk tales.

If you are looking for an original read with a fresh voice that blends a fictional dystopia with modern satire, then HOWUL is definitely one to read. You’ll also be supporting an independent publisher in Elsewhen Press.

Thank you so much to David and the team for my copy.

Other independent reads:

In the Sweep of the Bay by Cath Barton
The Pound Project Essays
Alabama Chrome by Mish Cromer