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REVIEW: Wonderland – J. Scott Coatsworth

Wonderland - J. Scott Coatsworth

Genre: Sci-Fi, Dystopian, Romance

LGBTQ+ Category: MM Gay

Reviewer: Maryann

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About The Book

Zeke is a hermit in his late forties who lives a quiet life in a small cabin in the Western Montana mountains, a few miles outside of Thompson Falls. He’s gotten used to being alone since the end of the world, and has everything he needs. Everything but someone to talk to.

Nathan is a younger man on a cross-country trek, searching the country for someone… anyone still alive. Saddled with a ghost from his old life and a case of OCD, he stumbles upon Thompson Falls and a pack of rabid dogs.

Rescued by Zeke, he has to figure out how to be human again. And with Christmas just a week away, both men have to figure out if there’s something left to be hopeful for, and if they might have a future together.

Note: This story was originally published in the 2016 Mischief Corner Books anthology “This Wish Tonight,” which is now out of print. It has been re-edited and slightly expanded.

The Review

I’ve read several of J. Scott Coatsworth’s short stories, and they always leave me with things to think about!

Zeke is a true survivor. He’s kept himself alive during a serious and odd plague that killed everyone else in the world. He’s been resourceful, living in his parents’ cabin in Montana. He has a routine that takes him into the deserted town of Thompson Falls to get what little is left for supplies. He has his books to keep his mind occupied and help keep the loneliness away.  He also has a shortwave radio that has long gone silent.

Nathan has been struggling to make it from Vermont to his home in Vancouver. He has a traveling companion named Andy.  When Nathan passes through Thompson Falls, he’s attacked by feral dogs.  In pain and exhausted, he has no other choice but to keep going.  With the encouragement of his friend Andy, Nathan just barely makes it to the porch of Zeke’s home.

Zeke is more than surprised to find Nathan on his porch. Zeke’s solitary life starts to change with the arrival of this stranger. As Zeke starts caring for Nathan, he finds Nathan is dealing with both the infected dog bite and his own OCD, and needs medication for both.Zeke puts his own life on the line for Nathan and makes several trips back to Thompson Falls for needed supplies.  

As Zeke and Nathaniel begin this new journey together, is there hope for them and the world at large?

And what of Andy? Who is he really, and what became of him after he got Nathan to safety?

Coatsworth always seems to have a little twist in his stories that leave an important message.  I found “Wonderland” a little scary, especially with what we face today with the pandemic.  How many of us could really survive on our own, like Zeke and Nathaniel with his OCD?  And Andy was a significant character in his own right, adding to the mystery. 

There are times we can do things for ourselves, challenges that make us who we are, and sometimes we discover we don’t always need divine help.

“Wonderland” is a story of hope, love, courage, survival and believing in one’s self.  

The Reviewer

Hi, I’m Maryann, I started life in New York, moved to New Hampshire and in 1965 uprooted again to Sacramento, California.  Once I retired I moved to West Palm Beach, Florida in 2011 and just moved back to Sacramento in March of 2018.  My son, his wife and step-daughter flew out to Florida and we road tripped back so they got to see sights they have never seen.  New Orleans and the Grand Canyon were the highlights. Now I am back on the west coast again to stay! From a young age Ialways liked to read.

I remember going to the library and reading the “Doctor Dolittle” books by Hugh Lofting. Much later on became a big fan of the classics, Edgar Alan Poe, Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker and as time went by Agatha Christie, Ray Bradbury and Stephen Kingand many other authors.

My first M/M shifter book I read was written by Jan Irving the “Uncommon Cowboys” series from 2012.  She was the first author I ever contacted and sent an email to letting her know how much I liked this series.  Sometime along the way I read “Zero to the Bone”by Jane Seville, I think just about everyone has read this book! 

As it stands right now I’m really into mysteries, grit, gore and “triggers” don’t bother me. But if a blurb piques my interest I will read the book.

My kindle collection eclectic and over three thousand books and my Audible collection is slowly growing.  I have both the kindle and audible apps on my ipod, ipads, and MAC. So there is never an excuse not to be listening or reading.

I joined Goodreads around 2012 and started posting reviews.  One day a wonderful lady, Lisa Horan of The Novel Approach, sent me an email to see if I wanted to join her review group.  Joining her site was such an eye opener.  I got introduce to so many new authors that write for the LGBTQ genre. Needless to say, it was heart breaking when it ended.

But I found a really great site, QRI and it’s right here in Sacramento. Last year at QSAC I actually got to meet Scott Coatsworth, Amy Lane and Jeff Adams.


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