A Random Tavern by one of my favorite authors, Duncan Wilson, is a novel’s worth of adventure packed into 32 Kindle pages.
Title: A Random Tavern
Author: Duncan Wilson
Release: March 2021
Goodreads Link: Here
Into a random tavern in a sea-side town wanders a forlorn stranger, weary and worn and wanting of a witness to his tale of woe. Terrible are his recollections and impossible are his adventures through horrifying dimensions of time, space, and previously unknown dimensions of ancient and unimaginable elder gods and demons. Join Randolph as he recounts his unnerving journey of strange stars and the sinister celestial spirits that dog his steps and hunger for his very humanity.
I usually start with characters but before I get to them, I wanna talk about the plot of this story and really the reason I loved it. Wilson has always thrilled me with his storytelling and this book is no different. It is different in a lot of ways, from his other books, but his mastery of gripping readers is still there! The basic idea is a yarn spun by a crusted old stranger, but the depth of madness intertwined with the voyage brings this story to a place of horrific science fiction. Creatures you could not imagine with ill intent towards our storyteller are only the beginning. The job for the reader is deciphering the honesty in the tale, as with all drunken stories, but you have NEVER heard a drunken story like this.
With that said, this story had a small cast, but they did some heavy lifting! The storyteller needs to talk to someone, so why not the bartender? These two characters had a way of interacting that felt so real and it was truly necessary to keep me in the story. The tale of this stranger is so wild, in a good way, that the grounding done by the bartender and his mundane duties constantly reminded me that I was indeed, in a tavern! Being pulled back and forth through the story felt easy because the characters were very realistic.
The world building in the story was magnificent considering that we travel through so much time and space. Starting off, I could really see the tavern as it was and as the story went on the vision of the place expanded. The same can be said for all the settings the stranger describes. Wilson writes in a concise manner while still putting us firmly in each scene.
I can never truly tell the themes of Wilson’s books because they are so layered and keep me guessing, but I like to think that the theme of this book is mystery. Although our storyteller had a horrific time of it, he worked through each mystery of the dimensions in his own unique way, but on the outside, our bartender was forced into his own mystery. Is this madman telling the truth? The bartender is pulled in by the gravity of the stories, but should he believe them? Some say they love a good mystery but when nothing is as it seems, how will we come out at the end?
This book was easy to read and very well written. I highly recommend this quick read for anyone who loves mind benders. Trying to keep up with the stranger and his adventure will keep you on your toes, the monsters will make you grimace, but the tavern will keep you grounded.