16 January 2019

Out Behind the Barn by John Boden and Chad Lutzke

Out Behind the Barn by John Boden and Chad Lutzke cover

The boys crept to the window and watched as Miss Maggie carried the long bundle into the barn, the weight of it stooping her aging back. Rafter lights spilled from the barn doors and Davey saw an arm fall from the canvas-wrapped parcel. He smiled.

“She got someone!”

Both children grinned and settled in their beds, eyes fixed to the ceiling.

This was family growth.

Sometimes you just feel like reading a short story. Maybe you don't have a lot of time to invest. Maybe you are looking for a literary aperitif before you dive into the next book. Maybe the last book left you emotionally drained and you don't have the heart to spare just yet.

Out Behind the Barn will fulfill many of those things, but oh, don't you dare think that a short story can't, and won't, hesitate to toy with your emotions. This short story tugs on heartstrings that horror often does not stir. It's a strange experience. It's not often I read anything labeled as horror and think "What a delightful story", but that's where this one took me.

There's a realism to Maggie and her boys that defies words. These are people you feel you can find on any country dirt road. They are utterly charming. This ragtag bunch somehow creates a family even though each has their own hidden knowledge, doled out to the reader like a leaky faucet, drop by painful drop. In the end, you are still astounded you didn't see it given all the small signs along the way. While none of the language is flowery, there's a certain poetry here; a deep and mournful melancholy that permeates each line.

And the ending! Oh, that ending. What happens? 

You'll have to read it to find out, but trust me, you'll hear those heartstrings sing. 

4.5 Paws Up!