Author: Elias Barton
Genre: Fantasy, Dark
Publisher: Iron Glass Press
Amazon US (Kindle) | Amazon (Print) | Amazon UK (Kindle)
For two years running (2011 & 2012) Above the Universe Below was was a semi-finalist in Amazon.com's Breakthrough Novel Award and Publishers Weekly:
"Brilliant writing carries this pleasantly odd tale of an agoraphobic artist, Carder Quevedo... Carder's road is not an easy one, but readers will be rooting for him in this unusual and beautifully written book."
An agoraphobic artist in our world but a grim reaper in another, Carder Quevedo hides at home, immersing himself in the paintings which commemorate the strange deaths he's witnessed. He ventures into public only when necessary, scrambling to his hospital job to extract corneas from deceased donors or darting to the diner to share a meal with Darren, his only friend. That's Carder's existence - and he's content.
Haika changes that. As the bored, beautiful owner of an art gallery - who also happens to be married - she stumbles into Carder in a chance encounter and soon becomes obsessed with his art. As they forge a quirky, electric relationship, Carder is reluctantly pulled into Haika's social world of wealth, status and the peculiar characters that come with it.
Carder is pushed further to the edge when his teenage niece visits, rebelling against her ultra-conservative upbringing. All the while, Carder's hidden history threatens to ruin his developing chance at normalcy, and on the opening night of his art gallery show, his past finally catches up to his present and wreaks havoc upon them all.
Haika’s mouth is obscured behind an empty Styrofoam cup riddled with repeating arches of gentle teeth-marks she’s bitten into it like colorless rainbows perforating white sky. She meets Carder’s gaze with a mischievous smile, enjoying the role of spectator and anthropologist. She’s relaxed, as if sitting in a bubble bath with a goblet of wine in hand, reading this all in a novel someone lent her.
That’s what Haika is: love. Not just love for Mike or art or New York. Haika is love in every moment. She’s loving to Carder, to his relatives, to the Carlisle boys. But she’s more. She’s love in the cloudless sky above, in the honey she brought for tea, in the music she tries to soundtrack Carder’s life with, in the thrift-store clothes she’s wearing, in the ascot knotted at her chin, in her bare feet sliding through what would once have been war-torn grass, in the sadness sometimes hiding in the corners of her lips. She brings love to every moment… something Carder has never seen in another person. Ever. He obsesses over every detail, and gulps down the harrowing thought that he’ll one day lose her. He tries to be love like Haika is, to laze on the hammock of friendship hanging from her eyes right now. He fills with gratitude. This has actually happened. She had actually been in his life, and no one can take that away. Carder could live off it for decades and fully plans to.
Above the Universe Below is a dark fantasy novel that follows the main character, Carder, through his strange personal life in New York City as well as the dark universe he is able to travel to in his mind. Carder has tried his whole life to keep his two worlds as far apart as he can, but deep down he fears that one day they will come crashing together with devastating results.
I was intrigued by the description and premise of this novel, and I'm really glad to say that it surpassed all of my expectations. At once odd and unique, yet beautifully written with wry humor thrown into the mix - I was immediately entranced in its pages. I have never come across a novel like this one before, and I'm actually at somewhat of a loss on how to describe it. It is extremely well written - with striking descriptions and astonishingly enthralling prose. It isn't a book that you quickly read through and forget, but one that you meander through at leisure, soaking up every bit of literary pleasure. The plot is unlike anything else out there and is definitely on the dark and quirky side. I fell in love with everything about this book - from the characters and setting to the enchanting narrative and curious plot. I will be thinking of this novel for a long time to come. I highly recommend it for readers who want a break from normalcy and everyday reality.
About the Author:
Elias Barton has lived on the edge of an active volcano, worked in a Bible factory and is the author of the novel "Above the Universe Below." He was a semifinalist in both 2011 and 2012 for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.
He currently resides in Washington DC where he befriends gargoyles, feeds unicorns and combats two cats who try to smother him in his sleep.
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