Reviewed by: Ann Brown Rating: 8 out of 10 Comments: "Shows great promise".
Publisher: Xlibris Corporation; Ingrid Brown
ISBN: 978-1-4257-3283-7 Cost: $10.00 Description: Perfectbound, 84 p.
Available from: Amazon.com, Borders.com, Steve's Books, Tulsa, OK.

Once upon a time in America communities were safe havens for people. Children walked the sidewalks unharmed, doors went unlocked, and people cared about their neighbors. In VILLAGE VENGEANCE, the journey from innocence to awareness begins for the main character Janiece one summer, as the hot days are chilled by the shadow of evil that palls the life of everyone. An unknown monster walks among them raping, beating, and making life a new and uncomfortable realm. The nagging question "who is it?" causes people to retreat, lock doors, and begin to mistrust everyone. In Village Vengeance the victims are the innocent, the guilty, and the ambiguous. The ending challenges and haunts with a multitude of questions about choices, decisions, and when exactly does right becomes wrong. In many ways, Village Vengeance is a lot like the Biblical story of Job and one wanders how much can one person experience before something within them does give up, curse God and die? If the main character acts as metaphor for society - maybe more than we think we can stand. In some ways Brown's story is an urban Homer with a character who is tested, and taunted, by some evil deity bent on the decay of the simple and honest goodness we knew. There are echoes of the classic hero's journey as the main character discovers that evil - first tasted in that terrible loss of innocence - is a part of everything from cheating friends, to abusive neighbors, and threatening children. There is something sorrowfully wrong in the larger world. The dark terror of the early story spirals through the book in crisp, raw first person narrative. There is the primal fear of the "other" and the stranger and the unknown. We walk with the protagonist through the landmines of life recalling our own missteps, bad choices, and wanting to yell "Look out!" at something our own experiences can foresee. Village Vengeance is not a comfortable book, it is not a fun book, but it is a book filled with human experience and from hearing the voices of victims maybe society can find itself - find its soul - once more.

The book is recommended for public libraries adult collections and is suitable for upper middle school to high school young adults. It lends itself well to sociology studies of community, crime, fear, social responsibility and victimization. It is a good addition for African American collections. The type is small so it will not be appropriate for older readers or those with vision problems. Occasionally the narrative is a little passive but other aspects of the story soon pull the reader back into the tale. All in all a strong new voice that shows good promise as she continues to write. Keep your eye out for more from Ingrid Brown.

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