Westlake Soul

ISBN: 9781926851556
eISBN: 9781927469064

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All superheroes get their powers from somewhere. A radioactive spider bite. A science experiment gone awry. I got mine from a surfing accident in Tofino. The ultimate wipeout. I woke up with the most powerful mind on the planet, but a body like a wet paper bag . . . .

Meet Westlake Soul, a twenty-three-year-old former surfing champion. A loving son and brother. But if you think he’s just a regular dude, think again; Westlake is in a permanent vegetative state. He can’t move, has no response to stimuli, and can only communicate with Hub, the faithful family dog. And like all superheroes, Westlake has an archenemy: Dr. Quietus—a nightmarish embodiment of Death itself. Westlake dreams of a normal life—of surfing and loving again. But time is running out; Dr. Quietus is getting closer, and stronger. Can Westlake use his superbrain to recover . . . to slip his enemy’s cold embrace before it’s too late?

Reviews of Westlake Soul:

In this wry, heartbreaking fantasy, Youers (Dark Dreams, Pale Horses) explores the dark landscape of a healthy mind trapped in an unresponsive body . . . deftly captur[ing] the voice and raw emotion of a young man struggling to delay the inevitable
Publishers Weekly (starred review)
. . . the family dynamics are well done, particularly the confessions the family members make to Westlake’s apparently lifeless form. The idea that a loved one in such a condition could in fact be present is perhaps the most devastating aspect of the entire novel.
Rio Youers is one of the most vital, most exciting young talents to come along in this decade . . . [He] writes beautiful phrases and sentences, and he has an instinctive feel for horror’s flash points, those moments in a novel when its author must demonstrate that he can keep his head while his readers are cheerfully losing theirs.
—Peter Straub
Youers does a remarkable job keeping the book on an even keel . . . drawing a fine domestic portrait of a tight-knit family under pressure while asking compelling questions about the nature of consciousness . . . and what it means to be human.
If a single word can be used to describe a book, then Westlake Soul can only be described as transcendent . . . . This novel transcends genre. Youers’ lyrical prose transcends literary convention. Westlake himself transcends the page and lives in hearts of all who encounter him. Anyone who finishes this book and does not carry a bit of Westlake with them literally has no soul.
Westlake Soul is a novel of astonishing beauty and skill. In every generation there are writers who can reveal the souls of the characters that live inside their stories while simultaneously laying bare the secrets of the reader’s own heart, if only to them. Rio Youers is such a writer, and Westlake Soul—with all its pain, terror, beauty, wonder, and redemption—is such a novel: a classic in the making by an unforgettable, major new voice in speculative fiction.
—Michael Rowe, author of Enter, Night
The marriage of the neuroscience and the slang is sublime. . . . Youers’ descriptive prose is perfectly GORGEOUS . . .
With Westlake Soul, Youers has established himself not only as one of the very best voices in speculative fiction, but as one of the best and most important voices in all fiction . . . [It] is a masterpiece. It's the type of novel that will be read and re-read for years, a novel that writers will point to as the book that made them want to write or taught them how. It's that good. I could continue to pile on the praise, but I don't think that'll do this review or the book any justice. Just read it, and you'll understand.
If you haven't heard of Rio Youers before, you need to go out right now and look up Westlake Soul, purchase it in whatever form you prefer, arm yourself with handkerchief or tissues, and settle down for a story that will shatter you with its beauty, elegance and raw honesty.
With thematic similarities to Dalton Trumbo’s Johnny Got His Gun, this imaginative mix of fantasy and reality combines highly dramatic subject matter with a narrative touch that is surprisingly light and funny. The ending, though, is haunting and more than a little emotionally charged. A daring and completely successful book.
Rio Youers is one of the reasons why I’m incredibly excited about, and optimistic for, the future of horror fiction. If you haven’t read his work before then start right here! Westlake Soul is a novel about the very essence of what it is to be human. Numinous, poignant and achingly emotional, it is both deeply tragic and soaringly life- affirming.
—Mark Morris
There are writers who are so talented that they can make you see the external manifestations of horror in all their full-blown Technicolor ghastliness. And then there are even more talented writers who make you feel horror’s heartrending internal effects. Rio Youers falls squarely into the latter category.
Dark Scribe Magazine
Rio Youers’ storytelling is so charming, so affable, so apparently effortless, that you’re still grinning like an idiot when the sheer horror of his imagination leaps up and suckerpunches you in the gut.
—Robert Shearman
The book succeeds in its creation of Westlake Soul, mature enough to have had a life, young enough to still be awed by things around him, traumatised enough that he has no fear of expressing that awe. There’s a lot of heart in Westlake Soul.
. . . Westlake Soul is more than a dark tear-jerker: we truly feel the terror and paranoia that come with living a life we have absolutely NO control over. This is a real-life horror story that brings up issues most would rather not consider, but by the end you’ll be glad you did.
Sometimes—it happens very rarely-but sometimes you are privileged enough to read a book that touches your soul. A book that makes you feel blessed to have experienced it. A book that makes you look at life in a completely different way. Westlake Soul is one of these books.
Rio Youers is as close to a unique voice as you’re likely to find in today’s world of emerging new talent. The term poetic prose springs to mind. In the hands of another author, Westlake Soul might have floundered. It is ambitious, thought-provoking, and by the protagonist’s very nature a difficult story to write. Youers possesses a skill that, despite the adult themes presented, never makes it a chore. There’s a light-hearted approach in the writing style, a kind of cool touch that makes Westlake Soul a powerful and engrossing read. As brilliant as it is sad.
. . . [Westlake Soul] was amazing, heart-breaking, breath-taking . . . difficult to read, but definitely worth it. Highly recommended.

Other Reviews

goodreads 4.24/5 stars more...

Author Info

Rio Youers is a multi-platform writer, working in books and comics. He is the author of Mama Fish (Shroud Publishing) and Old Man Scratch (PS Publishing)—the latter earning him a British Fantasy Award nomination in 2010. His novelette, This is the Summer of Love, was the title story of PS Publishing’s first new-look Postscripts anthology, a publication in which Rio has appeared three times. His short fiction has also been published by, among others, St. Martin’s Griffin, Cemetery Dance, and IDW Publishing.

Rio’s debut novel, End Times, was released by PS Publishing in 2010, with his first short story collection, Dark Dreams, Pale Horses, following in autumn 2011. His latest novel, Westlake Soul (ChiZine Publications), was released in the spring of 2012, and has been favourably reviewed in such venues as Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist, and the National Post.

Rio lives in southwestern Ontario with his wife, Emily, and their daughter, Lily Maye.

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