Saturday, April 30, 2011

Touch (Alexi Zentner)

How do you know what is real and what is not? That is the question posed to readers of Alexi Zentner's Touch. One never knows who (or what) is going to pop up in the woods of Sawgamet. Your deceased grandmother? A golden caribou?

The setting is the best thing (to me) about Touch. Zentner vividly describes the Sawgamet woods through the seasons, including the utterly dangerous winters. This is the story of Stephen, a pastor, coming home to care for his dying mother, his father, Pierre, and his grandfather, Jeannot. Death is very prevalent in Touch. The tragedies that end Stephen's father's and sister's lives and that which ends his grandmother's, seem to interconnect in ways that the reader can only imagine.

As the chapters connect and intertwine, the reader meets fantastical creatures and sometimes goes through shocking events. The atmosphere is strange but sinister. Whom to trust? When will actions that you regret come back to haunt you? They do to Jeannot in a way he cannot even begin to imagine.

Touch was a fine book until the end. The ending was too dull for such a mythical novel. Then again, can a book filled with surprises and fantasy at every turn ever really end in a traditional way?