Book Review: Road Seven by Keith Rosson (+ a $50 book spree giveaway!)

PopSugar 2020 Reading Challenge Prompt: None used Other PS 2020 reading prompts this would satisfy: A book that's published i...

PopSugar 2020 Reading Challenge Prompt: None used

Other PS 2020 reading prompts this would satisfy: A book that's published in 2020

TW: Heavy drug usage, chronic illness, violence, racism, abduction

I wasn't quite sure what to expect from Road Seven. I mean, the synopsis sounded interesting enough, but I wasn't sure if I was getting into a fantasy book or some kind of crime novel, and honestly the book is quite the mix of both. This genre-bending novel is marketed as magical realism, fantasy, and literary fiction. This was my first time reading Rosson, and I was impressed.

Summary: Road Seven follows disgraced cryptozoologist Mark Sandoval—resolutely arrogant, covered head to foot in precise geometric scarring, and still marginally famous after Hollywood made an Oscar-winner based off his memoir years before—who has been strongly advised by his lawyer to leave the country following a drunken and potentially fatal hit and run. When a woman sends Sandoval grainy footage of what appears to be a unicorn, he quickly hires an assistant and the two head off to the woman's farm in Hvíldarland, a tiny, remote island off the coast of Iceland. When they arrive on the island and discover that both a military base and the surrounding álagablettur, the nearby woods, are teeming with strangeness and secrets, they begin to realize that a supposed unicorn sighting is the least of their worries. Road Seven will mark the third of Rosson’s novels to be published by Meerkat Press. 

This book is a pretty wild ride. It's part The Anomaly, part A Million Little Pieces, part How Not to Die Alone - all books I thoroughly enjoyed. The characters, while not necessarily likable or incredibly easy to connect with, are interesting enough, and their stories are enough to pull you in.

The novel is broken down into sections, with smaller chapters within each section. And the sections are divided up between Brian (the main character) and Mark (the cryptozoologist). The majority of sections are given to Brian, who is definitely the protagonist in the story, and Mark is, well, Mark - he's arrogant and eccentric, to say the least. I particularly loved Karla and her children - they were the funkiest little family, and I found them to be just perfect.

I found that the perspectives of story-telling were odd throughout the book. I found myself wishing that the story was being told in first person from Brian's POV, and one of the sections in the book is. But the other sections are third person for Brian or Mark. I'm not sure of the intention behind this (as I definitely believe is was done purposely), but I'm not much of an analyst when it comes to literature. I just enjoy reading for pleasure, so you won't find any analysis here.

I also found that while, the majority of the time, Rosson's writing was eloquent and fairly poetic, there was a lot of repetitive language in terms of verb usage that felt kind of lazy and repetitive. It irked me. I also found myself Googling a lot of words that were used in the book that I'm not sure if they're slang or what - but those words just didn't make sense to me (and some Google hadn't even heard of). So that was confusing, but ignorable in terms of the greater writing and story-telling. I did definitely enjoy the book.

Lastly, I found that the big climatic part of the ending fell flat for me. I mean there was a lot of things happening that actually shocked me. But there was really this huge buildup to something that wasn't even fully presented to the reader and that felt so pretentious. Again, maybe this was some of that literary fiction coming out (which I usually find to fall flat for me), and maybe it was to be left to the reader's imagination, but it disappointed me.

"Because I want to believe in the unknown. In the idea of something beyond, something atypical. Even if I know there's nothing out there in the dark, nothing under the bed, I still wish the possibility was there." - Road Seven, Keith Rosson

Overall, I actually really liked this book. It was equal parts enthralling, mysterious, and fantastical, with just a little bit of non-romantic love sprinkled in. The book was smart (maybe a bit too smart for me at times), full of dry humor, and intriguing. I think I would enjoy reading more from Rosson in the future.

And PS - the book and movies are not real life. I was on a mission to find this Long Way Home movie starring Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman.  Though there is a documentary called The Long Way Home that Morgan Freeman happens to narrate, so don't let that one fool you.

Goodreads rating: ★★★★☆

Find out more about Road Seven here. You can purchase Road Seven at Meerkat Press,, Amazon, or Barnes & Noble. And enter the giveaway below for your chance to win a $50 book shopping spree to fund your purchase. 

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Learn more about the author, Keith Rosson, on his website or follow him on Twitter

*Thanks so much to Meerkat Press for allowing me to be a part of this blog tour. All opinions are my own. 

It was a help wanted ad from a monster hunter.

The monster hunter, really, if such a term could ever be said out loud without at least a little wince, a self-conscious roll of the eyes. Its arrival came via a forwarded link from Ellis, who in the subject line wrote: Aren’t you into this guy?

It was a spring evening and Brian sat in his room, enveloped in the encroaching night, cradled in his usual pain. A few moths flitted in mortal combat against his window screen, and Brian had the napalm grays going on, had that deep and familiar knife-throb in the skull. The Headache That Lived Forever. Still, Ellis’s line made him smile. Brian heard him downstairs in the kitchen yelling to Robert over the music, cupboard doors slamming closed. They were making drinks—pregame warmups, Ellis called them—before the three of them went out to get stupid, or what passed for stupid these days. Brian was already thinking of ways to bail—his head, when it got like this, in this kind of slow, heated roil, like a halo of barbs being cinched tighter and tighter, alcohol was no good for it.

Down the hall in the bathroom, he dropped a trio of aspirin into his palm and chewed them while he gazed at his face in the mirror. Three would maybe take the edge off, turn the headache from a sharp blade scraping along the bowl of his skull to a dull one. That was about it; you could grow used to anything. He leaned close and gazed at the galaxy of burst blood vessels in one eye.

Back in his room, bass-heavy nü metal ghosting through the floorboards, Robert bellowed laughter in response to something Ellis said. Brian sat back down, looked at the screen of his laptop. His bare feet on the wood floor, the occasional draft from the window fluttering the curtains. The moths outside, insistent and hopeful. Here was spring in Portland: the scent of cut grass, the blat of a car alarm, the creak of a shifting, old, many-roomed house. Ellis’s place he’d inherited from his parents; Brian had been his roommate since they were undergrads.

His desk was choked with stacks of accordion folders, mugs of pens. Outdated anthro journals he kept telling himself he’d read someday. He clicked on the link Ellis had sent, and it took him to a cryptozoology website, and not one of the good ones. Not one of the ones that Brian sometimes cruised (with only the slightest tinge of embarrassment), ones that tended to mirror or replicate the “reputable” sciences. No, this one,, had all the trappings of the technologically inept and socially unhinged: woefully pixilated photos, a dizzying array of fonts stacked and butting up against each other. There was a link, holy shit, to a Myspace page. What If Leprechauns, one headline blared in what was almost certainly Papyrus font, Were Really Pre-Stone Age Hominids!?! This, alongside a fan-art illustration of the Lucky Charms leprechaun leering and holding a stone ax in each hand. Beneath that, a banner ad for hair regeneration. The type of site, honestly, that made antiviral software programmers rich.

And yet, the next part snagged him:

The Long Way Home author, alien abductee, famed cryptozoologist, and renowned cultural anthropologist Mark Sandoval is on the hunt for a research assistant. And maybe it’s YOU!

He snorted at the “cultural anthropologist” part and scrolled down past the iconic cover of The Long Way Home, Sandoval’s memoir about his alien abduction (the image was a tiny human figure enveloped in a cone of light from some unseen but brilliant overhanging light source, the same image they’d used for the movie) and then past Sandoval’s Hollywood-quality headshot. It continued:

Mark Sandoval is looking for a research assistant to accompany him on a site visit outside of the US. Position is confidential and time-sensitive. Terms and compensation commensurate with experience. Visit to apply.

“Brian!” Ellis bellowed from downstairs. “Get your pregame drink on, dear heart! Let’s do this shit!”

“We’re making the most terrible drinks we can,” warbled Robert.

Brian typed in the address to Sandoval’s website, and it was a much nicer affair. Professional, clean, and surprisingly understated, considering the man claimed to have at one time literally traded punches with a chupacabra. And there was the ad—the same exact information, with a Click to Apply button at the bottom. Vague as hell. Had the air of haste to it, something quickly cobbled together. But he clicked on it, scratched his chin with his thumbnail. Pressed three fingers against his eyelid, felt the sick, familiar throb in the hidden meat behind his eye. He quickly typed in the various fields—name, email address, phone number—and confirmed that he did indeed have a valid passport. Then he uploaded his CV, which he had at the ready because this, of course, was not remotely the first time Brian Schutt had dicked around with the notion of ditching everything in regard to his future. No, this was not the first time at all.

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