Uncle Cheroot Reviews
Clarion Review writes: (Highlights of review only)
Uncle Cheroot is alluring, surrounded by mystery and enlivened by his supernatural attributes.
In Alan Jansen’s fantastical novel Uncle Cheroot, a young woman aims to discover who she is by unraveling her uncle’s supernatural legacy, resulting in a unique take on unfamiliar beings.
Uncle Cheroot tells its story through diary entries, often within other diary entries. Turtle, who lives with her family in rural England in the mid-1900s, is the novel’s main narrator. She recounts times when her intriguing Uncle Cheroot stopped by, each visit steeped in mystery and the supernatural.
Cheroot never ages, never gets hurt, and has an uncanny pull on others. At the time of her diary entries, Turtle herself has not aged or fallen ill in some time. She turns to Cheroot for any clue regarding to her true identity. As Turtle unearths Cheroot’s true, nonhuman origins, she comes to recognize who and what she is herself.
Uncle Cheroot unfolds thanks to prose that is articulate and compelling, if not at all times believable. Turtle’s voice does not always sound like that of a young woman; in fact, it is sometimes noticeably reflective of the male gaze, as when Turtle meets other women and describes them in terms of their bodily attributes.
When it comes to characterization, the novel shines. Uncle Cheroot is alluring. He is surrounded by mystery and enlivened by his supernatural attributes, from his irresistible sexual pull to the bloodstone he wears around his neck.
Cheroot is sometimes diabolical and misogynistic but is still captivating. Stories of his numerous exploits are entertaining and humorous, though this serial womanizer is also convincingly drawn as someone who will do anything to protect the family he loves.
The bulk of the novel is driven by Uncle Cheroot’s antics in Turtle’s village, which include blackmail, questionable sexual encounters, and the revelations of mystical abilities. He regularly finds himself involved in village disputes, from arguments over land to more supernatural events, like a ghost in the town church.
Even more unique characters come to light as the book progresses, including Turtle’s lovable animal companions and her heartwarming relatives. Each introduced character is built up well as someone to remember and adore.
Uncle Cheroot is a work with an intriguing premise and an enticing protagonist whose exploits are memorable.
January 3, 2018
Also available as an e-book
Blue Ink Review writes: (Highlights of review only)
Reviewed: January, 2018
This fantasy focuses on unrepentant sexual predator Cheroot Voldemort, a bulimic vampire, Druid, liar and blackmailer whose bizarre behavior, while shocking and loathsome, never grows tiresome.
The novel is set in England’s Cotswolds and narrated by Turtle Southton, a woman in her 70s. She begins the story when she, as a young teenager, first meets “Uncle” Cheroot. The narration toggles between Turtle’s youth and the present and includes accounts from Cheroot’s disturbing diaries.
Although the Southton family calls him Uncle Cheroot, he’s neither a relative nor human. Changed into an immortal long ago, Cheroot visits the family farm periodically to have sex with Turtle’s married mother, Julia, hoping to mix their blood and make her immortal. When he discovers this isn’t possible, he leaves for good, finding it too painful to watch Julia age while he remains young. As the story unfolds, we learn of Cheroot’s impact on Turtle and of her quest to find him after her mother dies.
The book offers an imaginative world with well-developed characters that include an anthropomorphic dog and turkey. The author injects humor into the story, as well. For example, during a haunting of the local church, a “ghost” prefers to embarrass people rather than harm them physically: “Verity Hayward, sitting in the very first pew, had her very
elegant and expensive skirt yanked off completely from her body, revealing her superb buttocks, contained within a very tight-fitting knicker that left nothing to the imagination.”
Uncle Cheroot delivers interesting characters in a unique, surprising fantasy plot.
Also available as an e-book.
Kirkus Review writes: (Full Review)
A supernatural novel sees a family of English farmers benefit from the visits of an eccentric uncle.
During the 1950s and ’60s, Turtle Southton grows up near the English village of Thrushwood with her parents; younger brother, Ben; and, occasionally, her visiting Uncle Cheroot. In 1954, the charming and well-heeled Cheroot arrives, and on the initial night of his stay, Turtle witnesses him making love to her mother, Julia. It’s also Christmas, and so Cheroot showers the Southtons with gifts. Stranger, though, is when he seems to speak with Gobble, the turkey they’d planned to slaughter for dinner. Cheroot insists that they spare the bird so that he might provide another.
Over the years, Turtle realizes that her hardworking, taciturn father, Jim, seems relieved by Cheroot’s visits and attentions to Julia. Cheroot appears not to age, and Turtle even catches him at one point with a red amulet pressed to his lips. Despite these oddities, Cheroot is an indispensable friend, interceding on behalf of the Southtons and other village underdogs against the greedy banker Mr. Blenkinsop and the conniving Lady Janet De Court Plutney. Years later, Turtle finds Cheroot’s diaries and confirmation that he was a nearly immortal Druid with vampiric powers. In this unconventional fantasy, Jansen (One Flew Over the Banyan Tree, 2015) details quaint, slice-of-life events by merging Turtle’s first-person narrative with Cheroot’s surreal journal entries. The titular character’s charisma and ability to sway the odds in his favor trace back to Merlin himself, while a mysterious bloodstone gives him “blood to drink” so that he doesn’t have “to prey on humans
or animals.” Cheroot’s only true weakness is women, and with dark whimsy, the author describes “an animal-like quality” in Lady Janet’s “bent legs and thick thighs.” Turtle’s framing narrative creates the overarching mystery of how she gained some of Cheroot’s powers. Jansen, however, only offers mild adventures in detailing Cheroot’s origin. The natural deaths of Turtle’s mother and dog, Inky, provide the emotional crests of the narrative.
A gently fantastic exploration of a vampiric creature’s human side.
Also available as an e-book
Goodreads customer review
Rating: 4 out of 5
No written review.