A Door of Shadow and Breath by Tim Sabados should be a short read at only seventy-four pages presented in eight chapters. If you are the type of reader who wants a novel to engage your thoughts, this is not a quick read until Chapter Eight. The final chapter will fill in most of the holes and will answer most reader questions, but not all. The entire novella invites readers to investigate their perceptions of life, death, and the nature of religious belief. I found the first seven chapters almost as dense as reading in philosophy if the reader decided to follow paths selected by different voices. Not different characters, just different voices.
The first significant, seemingly out-of-place element, is the physical condition of Anton. He is walking through a presumably forested area in a heavy fog. “The dull ache that infiltrated the soft flesh of his back had long ago frayed the ligaments that held the tower of bones upright. A tower that still had a couple of months before reaching its thirtieth year of existence.” (location 20). What? This guy is not yet 30 years old? Just for confirmation, there is this: “Instead his moisture-burdened lungs hung listlessly from the sagging bones of his ribs and collar bones.” (location 30). The quote appears in Chapter One of the novel, and I am hooked. What happened?
The story continues with an almost annoying series of flashbacks. Somewhat of a natural introvert, Anton recalls scenes in his office which occur around him. He is not a participant. Anton recalls a motorcycle accident five years earlier. Memories of Anton’s walk with his dog, Kenzie, appear on the screen of Anton’s memory theater. In another time shift closer to the present, Anton recalls the doctor and the medicines involved in treating the injuries from his motorcycle injury. Most significantly, Anton recalls conversations with his Grandma on the nature of death.
These flashbacks can become annoying. After all, in the present time, Anton is stranded in the woods during a heavy fog with a car that won’t run and a cellphone that has no charge. He needs to find help, but so far all he has found is a set of steps leading to a locked door. A lady and her daughter had come by, but they were also walking. As if that weren’t bad enough, the two were hostile and blamed him for something before they disappeared. Some guy showed up who had the same problems as Anton: dead car, phone with no charge, and no knowledge about where they were. Anton didn’t mind talking with him for a while but was also satisfied when he disappeared. Before disappearing, he and Anton had discussed the door Anton found. The stranger mentioned that the door would open when it was ready for Anton, not the other way around. The stranger could not open the door and initially, neither could Anton. Only after the stranger left, could Anton finally succeed.
The results and what Anton found are what make this short story very good. The amount of work the author put me through in the first seven chapters led me to give this five Amazon stars. Readers will judge Chapter Eight differently. I found the ending, good, appropriate, and a nice reward for getting through the first seven chapters. The story was not available on Kindle Unlimited; it was a USD 0.99 well spent.
The novel concludes with an excerpt from The Chain Of Salt And Water. I am usually annoyed by promotion pieces, but the writing for this short story piqued my interest enough to investigate the longer 410-page novel which is available on Kindle Unlimited (or USD 4.99). I found my next read.