An entertaining thriller.
WHAT’S THE BOOK ABOUT
A man wakes up in present-day Alaskan wilderness with no idea who he is, nothing on him save an empty journal with the date 1898 and a mirror. He sees another man hunting nearby, astounded that they look exactly alike except for his own beard. After following this other man home, he witnesses a wife and child that brings forth a rush of memories of his own wife and child, except he’s certain they do not exist in modern times—but from his life in the late 1800s.
After recalling his name is Wyatt, he worms his way into his doppelganger Travis Barlow’s life. Memories become unearthed the more time he spends, making him believe that he’d been frozen after coming to Alaska during the Gold Rush and that Travis is his great-great grandson. Wyatt is certain gold still exists in the area and finding it with Travis will ingratiate himself to the family, especially with Travis’s wife Callie, once Wyatt falls in love. This turns into a dangerous obsession affecting the Barlows and everyone in their small town, since Wyatt can’t be tamed until he also discovers the meaning of why he was able to be preserved on ice for over a century.
A meditation on love lost and unfulfilled dreams, The Ancestor is a thrilling page-turner in present day Alaska and a historical adventure about the perilous Gold Rush expeditions where prospectors left behind their lives for the promise of hope and a better future.
The question remains whether it was all worth the sacrifice…
WHY YOU SHOULD READ THIS BOOK
A man from the past wakes up in present-day Alaska with no memory of who he is. A fascinating premise that spurred me to pick up the book.
Firstly, let me discuss what I did not like in this book. The Ancestor is built on an improbable event. Here, the past and the present collide literally. Though an explanation is provided later, it did not convince me. So, all through the book, I had to suspend my disbelief.
Once I did that, I found the book to be an entertaining thriller.
The Ancestor starts with an unusual turn of events – an injured man with no memory of who he is, finds himself in the Alaskan wilderness and ends up in Travis’s jeep with the carcasses of the animals he hunted. However, soon enough the injured man finds a diary upon himself with the date 1898 scribbled on it. This makes things confusing.
But as I said, I went with the flow of the book.
Goldberg has created a thoroughly unlikable character in Wyatt, the injured man. I found him to be a selfish and delusional man. He keeps doing wrong things and commits sins, but deep down he believes, his actions are justified. Until he finally accepts his true nature. But this does not make what he does easy to read.
Do not worry, there is no gory scene here. But the revulsion comes from the actions of Wyatt. How far he is willing to stoop. But here lies the allure as well. I could not stop reading since I wanted to know to what length is Wyatt going to go to achieve his goal.
Goldberg has sketched a grim portrait of Alaska, an unforgiving, cold place. Its descriptions were as alluring as the descriptions of the myriad of characters peopling this book.
However, I felt there were too many characters. In my humble opinion, this dragged the story. There were unnecessary monologues. Further, backstories of some of these characters stopped the plot from being taut.
However, this is nicely offset by the strong sense of community in the small town of Laner, where the story is set.
To conclude, The Ancestor was an entertaining thriller, if you can excuse the improbable event on which the book is based. Although I could sense how the book would end, I liked the journey until the climax. I just wish the book had a tighter plot.
Genre: Thriller || Published on 21st August 2020 by All Due Respect Books
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Many thanks to Emma @ Damppebbles Blog Tours for organizing this blog tour. Many thanks to the publisher for my copy of the book. This does not affect my opinion on the book. I opted to provide an honest review on my blog.
Lee Matthew Goldberg is the author of the novels THE DESIRE CARD, THE MENTOR, and SLOW DOWN. He has been published in multiple languages and nominated for the 2018 Prix du Polar. His Alaskan Gold Rush novel, THE ANCESTOR, is forthcoming in 2020.
He is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Fringe, dedicated to publishing fiction that’s outside-of-the-box. His pilots and screenplays have been finalists in Script Pipeline, Book Pipeline, Stage 32, We Screenplay, the New York Screenplay, Screencraft, and the Hollywood Screenplay contests.
After graduating with an MFA from the New School, his writing has also appeared in the anthology DIRTY BOULEVARD, The Millions, Cagibi, The Montreal Review, The Adirondack Review, The New Plains Review, Underwood Press, Monologging and others. He is the co-curator of The Guerrilla Lit Reading Series and lives in New York City.