Dare you enter…”The Mall.”

Originally from my Amazon Post:

Film director John Carpenter used a system with his movies where he would create an amazing exposition. An “okay, here’s the situation” device that would suck the viewer into whatever world it was he had created. I personally love that aspect of his films and Bryant Delafosse’s The Mall makes heavy use of it.

Okay, here’s the situation…

Lara Myers is in a pickle. The economy is tanking and she is a widow who is barely making ends meet as an administrative assistant. With two kids in tow, she is horrified to find out that her landlords have foreclosed on her apartment and her key to the front door no longer works. It would just so happen that her deceased husband was her lifeline to society and her options for help are limited. The only route for a remedy lies with her mother-in-law – who, unfortunately, hates her guts.

This old dowager lives in a fully-automated condo atop a just as fully-automated megamall. The structure is a behemoth of commerce that stretches for miles outside of a Texan megacity. I can’t help but think of the gargantuan Costco featured in the movie Idiocracy. Yeah, that big. After a mishap between her children and the crone’s android dog, Lara’s pickle gets all the more bitter. With no place to call home, the remains of the Myers family must spend the night in The Mall…

Delafosse can not only illustrate an intriguing lay of the land, but his characters are quite believable in their reactions to an array of devilish situations. That’s a refreshing use of literature, because so many science fiction writers focus so much on the milieu and not on the emotions and minds of the cast. The Mall is like J.G. Ballard’s High Rise with a heart, and this is presented to the reader as the protagonist is so vulnerable. I’m not sure if this is an indie publication, but I doubt mainstream publishers would take a chance on featuring such a main character. After all, this story takes place on a family’s first night of homelessness. Naturally, horror.

Another interesting aspect is the book’s timeline. At first, I thought it was about twenty minutes into the future as everything is automated and androids are accepted as commonplace. They have the internet (but it is a bit different from ours) and a flourishing economy on its last legs. But why in the hell are The Goonies and Back to the Future brand-new movies? After some brilliant revelations, we realize that the novel takes place in an alternate 1980’s! An alternate 1985 if I’m not mistaken. This world enjoyed a 1960’s dominated by eight years of JFK and a robotic heyday of the 1970’s. How cool is that?

The plot has not only elements of sci-fi, but delves into the supernatural. The book is a smorgasbord of genres, but I did not get lost in the cavalcade of…cool horror. I don’t know what else to call it. The twists and turns are there, but not in an M. Night Shyamalan fashion and I felt that they were handled elegantly.

Grammar fascists will wince at some of the typos, but I felt that the story itself overrode that and I could forgive them. But for those foibles, I would give the book five stars for character, plot, an incredible setting and Delafosse’s ability to conjure suspense. These characters really have their work cut out for them as they attempt to survive The Mall.


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