'Testament' by Jose Nateras
You know that feeling.. when you see a book cover that just reaches out and draws your gaze? That's exactly what happened to me with this novel. The blood red tempest against the black and white Chicago skyline just pulled me right in. And it's not misleading, in the least. This is a book I feel secure saying, you can judge by its cover.
From the opening scenes, freshman author Jose Nateras easily immerses you in even the day to day life of Gabe Espinosa. The anxiety swirling within the main character is apparent, even in his mannerisms as he takes the train into work.
Nateras glimpses at society as a whole, are clear and concise, but never boring. The same things that emerge in Gabe's thoughts, are the kinds of things we probably think ourselves. Even the pattern of his thoughts feels natural. It's actually difficult to remember that this is a debut novel, because the author is so skilled.
The story is well rounded. There's deep backstory, both on a personal level, and in regards to what is actually occurring around Gabe throughout the story. Though we only see them briefly here and there, the supporting characters have some depth and backstory of their own, which is refreshing. Foreshadowing is so well done, that at least once, I found myself on edge in a situation where none of the intense moments even occurred. I had just become so conditioned to them, I was left feeling almost alarmed when it didn't happen.
And make no mistake, there is a terrifying undercurrent to this story. It may not be the contemporary horror we've come to expect.. overwrought with gore or jump-scares.. but it is most definitely terrifying in its way. This novel is psychologically exhausting, not just due to the nature of the story itself, but also because Nateras does such a good job of connecting the reader with the character. I felt like I knew his pain intimately. At times, I even cried with him, and that's no small feat.
There is an almost old fashioned 'creep' factor to 'Testament.' I've had similar reactions to books over the years, but with few contemporary authors-- William Peter Blatty, Stephen King, Ira Levin-- to name a few.. and okay, you got me. Most of those are not very recent contemporary at that.
But don't just let me tell you, add this book to your to-be-read list. Get to know this phenomenal new author. You won't be sorry.
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