Today is my stop on the blog tour for ‘The Ancestor’ by Lee Matthew Goldberg organised by Damppebbles Blog Tours. I hope that you will check out both the author and the book, as well as the rest of the blogs involved in the tour.
*Disclaimer: ‘I was given a copy this book in exchange for an honest review.’*
A man wakes up in present-day Alaskan wilderness with no idea who he is, nothing on him save an empty journal with the date 1898 and a mirror. He sees another man hunting nearby, astounded that they look exactly alike except for his own beard. After following this other man home, he witnesses a wife and child that brings forth a rush of memories of his own wife and child, except he’s certain they do not exist in modern times—but from his life in the late 1800s.
After recalling his name is Wyatt, he worms his way into his doppelganger Travis Barlow’s life. Memories become unearthed the more time he spends, making him believe that he’d been frozen after coming to Alaska during the Gold Rush and that Travis is his great-great grandson. Wyatt is certain gold still exists in the area and finding it with Travis will ingratiate himself to the family, especially with Travis’s wife Callie, once Wyatt falls in love. This turns into a dangerous obsession affecting the Barlows and everyone in their small town, since Wyatt can’t be tamed until he also discovers the meaning of why he was able to be preserved on ice for over a century.
A meditation on love lost and unfulfilled dreams, The Ancestor is a thrilling page-turner in present day Alaska and a historical adventure about the perilous Gold Rush expeditions where prospectors left behind their lives for the promise of hope and a better future.
The question remains whether it was all worth the sacrifice…
The Ancestor is one of those books that breaks the boundaries between genres because while it is a thriller at heart, it incorporates many aspects from other genres, and it does it well. At no point does it lose any sense of self, and it balances the different aspects beautifully, shaped into a book that demands your attention.
Alaska as a setting has always been interesting to read about, and Goldberg manages to capture the bleakness and cold, but also the beauty of the area and nature, as well as the lives of the people that live there. There was clear research done for this part, and the effort was paired with careful crafting of the world for the narrative, with some truly beautiful descriptions, which brought the setting vividly to life.
This was paired with very believable characters, who all had their own development and storyline, and whether they were a main character or secondary character added to the world and narrative, and even those who were not likeable were engaging. Of the two main characters, I preferred Wyatt, although my feeling towards him underwent quite a transition, as he underwent quite a change throughout the book as he rediscovered parts of himself, twisting the character we meet into something very new and different by the end of the book. Travis, the other man character took longer for me to connect with him, but as he developed and grew, you wind up rooting for him. The secondary characters, especially Travis’ family were interesting, and I really enjoyed those side storylines, and they were brought together with the main storyline in a way that created a rich, multi-layered story.
The time-slip element of the book, and the memories, were executed very well, although there were places where it felt as though it could have benefited from shorter bursts of this throughout the book to keep the pace flowing, as there were a few places here or there was the pacing slipped a little. However, for the most part, the time-slip parts were amongst some of my favourite moments in this book, heightened with a shift in tenses and writing style, and for me, they really set The Ancestor apart. Outside this and the pacing, I really enjoyed Goldberg’s writing style, it was modern and well-crafted, and really brought this narrative to life, and that paired with a fascinating premise, created a book that was original, fascinating and left you always waiting for the next twist.
This was a book that interested me from the start but caught me by surprise with how much I ended up enjoying it. A riveting read that is a thriller at heart but so much more, refusing to be bound by a single genre, and I would recommend to anyone wanting something original, that breaks out of the box, and does it exceptionally well.
About the Author:
Lee Matthew Goldberg is the author of the novels THE DESIRE CARD, THE MENTOR, and SLOW DOWN. He has been published in multiple languages and nominated for the 2018 Prix du Polar. His Alaskan Gold Rush novel THE ANCESTOR is forthcoming in 2020. He is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Fringe, dedicated to publishing fiction that’s outside-of-the-box. His pilots and screenplays have been finalists in Script Pipeline, Book Pipeline, Stage 32, We Screenplay, the New York Screenplay, Screencraft, and the Hollywood Screenplay contests. After graduating with an MFA from the New School, his writing has also appeared in the anthology DIRTY BOULEVARD, The Millions, Cagibi, The Montreal Review, The Adirondack Review, The New Plains Review, Underwood Press, Monologging and others. He is the co-curator of The Guerrilla Lit Reading Series and lives in New York City. Follow him at leematthewgoldberg.com
The Ancestor – Lee Matthew Goldberg (Published in digital and paperback formats by All Due Respect Books on 21st August 2020) – **** (4/5 Stars)
If you’ve read it or read in the future, please feel free to shout at me about this fantastic book.