cover image The Alehouse at the End of the World

The Alehouse at the End of the World

Stevan Allred, illus. by Reid Psaltis. Forest Avenue, $17.95 trade paper (334p) ISBN 978-1-942436-37-9

Lovers of absurdist humor with an epic flavor will find a delight in Allred’s second novel (after A Simplified Map of the Real World: The Renata Stories). The fisherman is a simple man: he loves the sea and he loves his Cariña, from whom he’s been separated by time and shipwreck. Upon receipt of her final letter to him before her death, he embarks on a mythic hero’s journey to the Isle of the Dead, where he encounters shapeshifting birds, demi-deities, a legendary beast, and a snarky, narcissistic crow who fashions himself the king of the dead. What began as a quest to reunite with his lost love quickly becomes a battle for the survival of a spirit world, in whatever form that might take, and an examination of the divine. Sparked with risqué humor, the nearly Sisyphian questing of the fisherman devolves into a series of increasingly absurd and astonishing scenarios, all underscored with a strong thematic element of hope. Scholars of myth and lore, and readers prepared to be swept away on someone else’s trip (perhaps of the hallucinogenic variety), will be enthralled. (Nov.)