Wave Goodbye to Charlie, Eric Arvin
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: LGBT Fiction
Tags: Angst, Fantasy/Paranormal, Ghosts, Horror, Violence
My name’s Charlie. I’m many things, though none of them having to do with any real talent. I’m a runaway, a hustler when I need to be, a ghost when I have to scare hoodlums away from my home, and a loner who maybe reads too much. But most of all, I’m the keeper of the carnival. That’s how I see myself. I look after the place ’cause even dying things need to be cared for. Maybe it’s illegal. Maybe that rusty metal fence around the carnival is supposed to keep me out too. Or maybe me and this place were meant to find each other. Truth is, I never felt at home anywhere but here, not even in all the foster families and orphanages I was placed in as a young shit. They don’t look for me no more, those places. I suspect I ran away so much they finally just said, “Fuck! Let him go.” I am a hangnail on society’s manicured middle finger. I’m older. One year past the age anyone gives a shit.
And this is my adventure…
The last time I was at a loss on reviewing a book it was an Eric Arvin book. Strike that. It was two of Eric Arvin’s books, The Mingled Destinies of Crocodiles and Men and Azrael and the Light Bringer shortly after. Those two books went on to be tied for my #1 spot for books of the year for 2013 on this blog. I won’t even get started on Woke Up In A Strange Place long before those because that was another one difficult to review. There are some books you simply cannot do justice in a review and along with those I just mentioned, now we have Wave Goodbye to Charlie.
The blurb tells you a bit about Charlie and his life. He’s a loner, a runaway. He lives right outside of a town called Devlin, where he only ventures for essentials and to make a bit of cash here and there. Charlie is a hustler who does whatever he needs to do to survive. This doesn’t make him a bad person. Far from it, actually. Young Charlie has a kind heart and wants to believe there is good in all. He makes his home an old abandoned carnival. The carnival is haunted and this is made more evident by the carousel and lights coming on at the exact time of 2:00 a.m. every morning. They only run for an hour, but Charlie can set his clock by the consistency of it. Sure, it creeped him out more than a little bit when it happened the first time, but he eventually got used to it. Charlie’s bed consists of an old log ride at the carnival and for the most part he’s content. He has regular customers who give him enough cash to keep him fed and he has Leroy and Jimmy, an older couple who treat him as one of their own.
Leroy and Jimmy are a story all themselves and I adored them from their introduction. They live together in an old house once owned by the caretaker of the carnival. Leroy is a great cook and is always trying to feed Charlie. Jimmy couldn’t cook for anything, but he can grow anything and has a garden out back that could rival anyone’s. Leroy is ill, but Jimmy takes good care of him. If it were up to Leroy and Jimmy, Charlie would be living with them instead of at the old, abandoned carnival. Oh, Charlie is tempted a time or two. Leroy cooks enough food for an army and Charlie is a growing boy (young adult), after all. But there’s something creepy about the old caretaker’s house and Charlie can’t imagine spending even one night under that roof.
Then we meet Nessa. Nessa is an older woman who lives a little bit away from Leroy and Jimmy and Charlie doesn’t know her that well. He knows of her, of course, as it’s been rumored that she’s a witch. Nessa sees things and knows things that an average person wouldn’t. This is proven when things start happening in the old caretaker’s house and with a town bully and his dog. Nessa reminded me of Minerva True in the Valley Books (Mingled Destinies and Azrael) in a lot of ways. She had a sight and she knew things that others couldn’t know. She was able to have contact with some who had moved on, and some who had not.
The bully, appropriately called Bull and his dog, are evil. Bull drives a loud truck and carries a gun. There are some folks who have no good in them and that’s Bull. Bull causes major problems for Charlie and his small group of friends, but I refuse to type spoilers for anything in this book.
There are other interesting characters who make up the story. This is an Eric Arvin book, so you know that each and every one will be unique. From Trent (Charlie’s first beau, so to speak), to a customer who Charlie ‘services’ each week (Patricia), to the grays – harmless spirits that reside in Leroy and Jimmy’s home – to Cal and Alfie, ghosts who meet Charlie along the way, and even to Shadow Man, the evil entity that refuses to leave the old caretaker’s home and who is anything but harmless. There are other characters, of course, but these are critical to the story.
I mentioned being at a loss over how to review this story and this is one reason why…. a majority of this book is made up of various things that if mentioned would be considered a spoiler to anyone who hasn’t read it. What I will say is that Charlie is taken on a journey to not only help those he loves, but he must find his own way. Things don’t exactly continue going along for him in his little world of contentment with his friends and at the abandoned carnival. Evil things happen and it’s up to Charlie to find a way to make those evil things banish for good. With help from his friends (both living and not), he ventures into the unknown and discovers a lot about himself along the way. He also discovers that the runaway who thought he wasn’t worthy of love is loved dearly by some pretty amazing people.
There is quite a bit of conflict in this story and not all the violence is totally glossed over. You will find yourself completely enamored by Charlie and his surrogate family. You will smile a lot, but I promise you that there will be a lot of tears as well. It’s been awhile since a book had my eyes so blurry I couldn’t see the words on my Kindle. Don’t take that to mean it’s all sadness and angst because it’s not. Charlie may be a self-described hustler, but I found him to be one of the most charming fictional characters I’ve seen in a very long time. He’s a good person and only wants to do right by his friends. If it means harm coming to him, that’s okay, as long as his friends make it out of everything okay.
Overall, this is by far one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. My love of Eric Arvin’s work goes way back to when I read Woke Up In A Strange Place back in 2011, and with each additional story, that love and respect for him as an author grows. He’s a brilliant storyteller and this is once again proven in Wave Goodbye to Charlie.
The cover is perfect. You’ll have to read the book to understand why, but I can’t imagine a different cover on this book.
This is not a romance and that should be noted strongly. If you’re looking for a gay romance, find another book. Wave Goodbye to Charlie is a work of fiction that can’t really be categorized into any specific genre, in my opinion. I can’t recommend it enough.
This book was provided by Wilde City Press in exchange for a fair and honest review. Like with his others, I will be purchasing a copy in support of the author.