How is one supposed to find the words to review a book in which the author has already exhausted (Vin might love the irony of that x in such a lethargic word) all the most brilliant words in the English language to tell his story? Come to think of it, Vin might like the word lethargic. Maybe he’d think it’s a word that has rocked itself to sleep on the letter c. But I digress…
You just take a deep breath and hope to do your best, I suppose.
King Perry is, simply put, a spectacle of storytelling. It is a forty-hour-long journey narrated by a man the likes of which I’ve never encountered in all my years of reading. Vin Vanbly says, at one point, “Found Kings love paradox. Lost Kings love irony, the shadow of paradox.” If that’s true, then Vin is both the Lost and the Found, and though he calls himself the Human Ghost, if I were to try to find a way to describe him, I’d say he is the King of kings because he is the Storyteller King, and he who holds the power of words, sits upon the throne that rules the world.
Honestly, I just want to pour all the words out of this book and into my brain so I can keep reading it over and over again in my memory. I want to stand in the middle of its pages and shake it like a snowglobe until all the words skitter around me in an exhilarating (x!) swirl of luminosity. I want to bathe in these words until I exude exuberance (x, x!) in such vigorous doses that people can smell the ink seeping from my pores. That’s how much I loved this book. (Vin would probably be a little miffed at me right now for getting the word vigorous stuck on a continuous loop in his brain. For that, I’d apologize, but he’s right. It’s a wondrous word.)
Imagine if we all, Kings and Queens alike, were born into a Neverland where we become the tourists on the journey of life. We, the potential Peter Pans, incorporate all of life’s experiences in different ways, some of us holding on to the miracle and wonder of a mish-mashed childlike grownup innocence, while others of us have forgotten, or rather, lost the ability to remember what it once meant to feel warm, safe, oblivious to all the aches and disappointments life has to offer—the Lost ones. Now, imagine Vin Vanbly is the navigation system and the mechanic, the man who uses the cardinal points on the metaphysical compass of being to redirect the lives of those who need rescuing from the break-down lane of life’s highway. He is the tour guide and the technician who helps the Lost find their inner Kings and Queens again, and he does so by making himself the magnetic North toward which his Lost ones gravitate, even when they sometimes fight against the pull he has on them.
This is Vin Vanbly—the man whose own innocence was stolen from him as a child, but who loves so deeply and lives so passionately that he can’t bear to witness a fellow human being wandering aimlessly on his own journey. Vin is the alchemist and his love and his words are the quicksilver he uses to transmute the base metal of a Lost King into the Golden Found. His methods are more than a little unorthodox (how’s that one, Vin? Unorthodox?), and it’s difficult to predict where he’s going from one moment to the next, but the end result is all that matters, and the end result for Perry Mangin is that in a world that honors sameness, he dared to be different when it mattered.
There is a recurring theme in Perry’s life before he meets Vin: ”I always said I would, though.” Perry lives in a world of could’ve/would’ve/should’ve/haven’t, so Vin guides him through a series of adventures that will end with, no matter how outrageous and impossible to believe, the been-there-done-that marvel of flicking an emotional spinner and watching the needle land somewhere between crippling fear and liberating joy (hey, Vin, maybe that’s the definition of vigor), which results in Vin honoring Perry with the gift of healing his inner child and giving rise to his King.
Imagine standing in front of a painting and staring at it for hours, studying it, admiring it, absorbing it to the point that it imprints upon you so completely that when you close your eyes, it’s all you see on the backs of your eyelids. That’s kind of the way this book resonated with me, but I also get the feeling this is the way Vin has imprinted upon Perry, and vice versa. When they each close their eyes at night, they will see the other as shape and form and substance but also as color and sparkles and light and feelings and scent and the sounds of the love that evolved over their forty hours together, as Perry is destroyed and rebuilt into, not a new Perry, but certainly an improved Perry. Oscar Wilde once said that “every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter.” Maybe the Forgiver King and the Human Ghost are reflections of the personal brushstrokes Edmond Manning used to give these men substance.
King Perry is not a romance yet it is exceedingly romantic. There is not a traditional happy ending yet it ends happily. It’s part of Dreamspinner Press’s Bittersweet Dreams collection, yet I found it to be far less bitter than sweet. And finally, it is a journey of self-discovery and the pursuit of forgiveness of the Fates that cheated a boy of his father and made him afraid to open his heart.
I don’t want to diminish the brilliance behind this book, but Edmond Manning makes this storytelling business look effortless. There are words that thread together to tell a passable story; then there are words that layer, one on top of the other, like the bricks of a fairy tale castle with secret passageways and peaked turrets and even dungeons where dragons lurk in the shadows. Each and every sentence of this story builds upon the next to create an extraordinary and magical adventure. It is subtle yet overt, textured with humor and passion and compassion and eroticism. It is seductive and enchanting and I was completely charmed by the writing, the characters, and the story this author told so impeccably.
If you said to me, “Wow, you really loved this book,” there’s only one reply I could give, to quote Vin Vanbly:
”You’re probably right.”
Buy King Perry HERE.