Written by Cormac McCarthy
Reviewed by Heather T.
I had two reviews written for two very proper mysteries, the type with a dead body or two, a suspect or two and one very insightful mystery solver. Then I read The Road and I had to submit a review to Estella’s Revenge and while it definitely does not match the accepted idea of a mystery novel, it most certainly is a mystery. It presents the mystery of ethics and human existence in a very intriguing way.
Their names are never told. The man and his son, the boy, have survived; we’re not sure how as shortly before the birth of the boy there is an apocalyptic event which throws the world into absolute chaos. There is death and destruction but we’re meant to fill in the visual gaps ourselves and I’ll tell you that I had to stop reading the book every once in awhile as I willed my imagination to show me the opposite of what the book portrays so very subtly and so very disturbingly.
Sometime in the past, the boy’s mother has used one of the three bullets in the small gun they carry as their only protection. Then they are alone, together. Six or seven years have past and the man is dying but must reach the ocean and must shield the boy from the horrors found in the ash. Each event along the road is shrouded in half explanations and hidden meanings. They continue to walk.
They carry the fire, is it their soul? There are those that have lost their fire or perhaps have never had it and would kill them to merely survive and those that would pass quickly by in the night, running towards their own oceans, hoping for their own meager survival, carrying their own fire. The boy remains as true goodness throughout the long journey.
I cried many times throughout this book and I felt gratefulness at this safe life I lead; I’ll be frank and tell you that the very idea of this book frightened me…frightened me deep down. There were many quotes I wanted to write here but the following passage in particular illustrated the story so perfectly that it is the only one I’ll share with you.
“In the morning they came out of the ravine and took to the road again. He’d carved the boy a flute from a piece of roadside cane and he took it from his coat and gave it to him. The boy took it wordlessly. After a while the man could hear him playing. A formless music for the age to come. Or perhaps the last music on earth called up from out of the ashes of its ruin. The man turned and looked back at him. He was lost in concentration. The man thought he seemed some sad and solitary changeling child announcing the arrival of a traveling spectacle in shire and village who does not know that behind him the players have all been carried off by wolves.”