Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Beloved

Elizabeth Weaver is a contentedly married woman.  Her younger brother Ronnie, a recovering cocaine addict has brought a new woman into their family.  Recently divorced Diana Marshfield is initially welcomed into the family over cautious concern.  What soon becomes clear is that Diana is more than she seems. 
J.F. Gonzalez uses a monster that is very difficult to implement effectively.  The Succubus.  The choice of antagonist is used well by focusing on Elizabeth Weaver as the main character.  This avoids the novel from becoming nothing but a series of ever escalating sexual encounters.  The greatest strength of the novel is the well layered and realized family dynamic of the Weavers entire extended family.  Especially well created are Elizabeth and Gregg Weaver as well as their son Eric.  Gonzalez has created a relatable believable family unit that deals with what occurs as all rational people would.  The reader uncovers the truths about Diana through Elizabeth and Gregg.  While Ronnie is never a truly sympathetic character the rest of the supporting cast is well developed, including Ronnie’s daughter’s mother, Cindy. 
The book is broken into three very distinct sections.  The transitions between these make perfect logical sense in the story, however they feel abrupt as the narrative changes style.  The Beloved begins with a perfectly used prologue.  The reader is teased into believing they understand what is occurring, but do not fully until the end.  The climax is totally satisfying and nearly perfect. 

In the End;
J.F. Gonzalez’s The Beloved is a low key, slow boil supernatural thriller.  Using the dynamics of a typically well meaning American family Gonzalez poses a number of difficult questions regarding the self destructive nature of people. While better known for the all out assault on the senses in his novel, Survivor Gonzalez proves with The Beloved he can create a slow moody atmosphere of dread.

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