Book Review: Marrow’s Pit by Keith Deininger

20513074Title: Marrow’s Pit

Author: Keith Deininger

Genre: Dark Fiction, Horror, Novella

Age Group: Adult (18+)

Rating: 2 stars

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest 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.

After thoroughly enjoying the last few DarkFuse novellas I read, I was slightly dissapointed by Marrow’s Pit. Based on the title and back blurb, you’d expect that the Machine plays a major part in the book. I was hoping to find out more about the Machine, curious to see what it could do, and what its purpose was.

Unfortunately the Machine only plays a minor part in the book. The largest part of the book is about Ballard, an employee who spends his time maintaining the machine. His wife is a horribe person who constantly whines to him and calls him names, so Ballard lives under constant stress, and he’s depressed. But then a tragedy happens, and spineless Ballard is unsure how to handle it, so he…does nothing. That is, until others find out, and he’s forced to do something he never thought he’d do.

Ballard is an unlikeable protagonist. His wife is terrible. She has no good word for anyone, lest alone Ballard. We see glimpses of their past together, of how they fall in love, although I wondered to what end. The people we see today are strikingly different from the people Ballard and his wife were in the past. Due to his wife’s constant nagging, Ballard has become spineless, not truly a man, incapable of making any decisions, not even quite like an adult. When the ‘bad thing’ happens, Ballard tries to cover it up, and most of the story involves about that, and what he does when the truth does come out.

The Machine, the dystopian setting, that’s all just background and scenery that doesn’t really add to the story. The story could’ve been set in the seventies, in the nineties, or even in present day in the ordinary world, and it would still mostly be the same. Dissapointing, because the Machine sounded and its impact on daily life definitely sounded interesting.

The writing was good, but the story felt like ‘been there, done that’. The characters didn’t hold my interest, and I didn’t really care about what happened to Ballard.

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