Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Hole Behind Midnight: Clinton J. Boomer is a twisted individual

The Hole Behind Midnight, by RPG enthusiast/author Clinton J. Boomer, reads like it was written specifically for review blurbs. Watch: "The Hole Behind Midnight features gun-happy teenage goat-men, a homeless prophet, a maniacal demon clown, insatiable 'shemale' spirits, and a supernatural power play that might destroy America as we know it. Caught up in the middle is Royden Poole, a Hindu dwarf who dearly wishes that he could go back to letting people think he's dead..." See? It's like Boomer wrung out his twisted imagination and wrote a list of the first dozen things he could think of and then wrote the novel around them. As a result, one thing is for sure: The Hole Behind Midnight is unlike any other novel you've ever read.

Image from the author's website

I was familiar with Clinton J. Boomer from his work as co-creator of the Youtube series "PHB PSAs," a series of videos starring him and his friends sitting at a table talking as Dungeons & Dragons characters. The series had no budgets and didn't bother with sets or costumes. The jokes were sometimes lame and often raunchy, but they were so off-the-wall and so nerdy that I watched them all. The familiarity with Boomer's sense of humor helped me with The Hole Behind Midnight, but nothing could really prepare me for some of the things he stuck in this novel.

If you're like me, you've already read several urban fantasy novels, and you're used to the idea of wizards and spirits inhabiting modern cities. If that's the case and you're looking for a new take on the genre, The Hole Behind Midnight is guaranteed to put a new spin on it. Wizards gain their magical power by claiming abandoned kingdoms, both historical and fictional: you could claim to be the king of Sumeria, for instance, or the queen of Cimmeria. There are many rules that go with being Secret Royalty, and that's where Boomer's background as an RPG fan and author comes out: sometimes the narrative pauses for several pages to allow the narrator to give readers an information dump that reads like an excerpt from an RPG rulebook, with added attitude.

Royden Poole, illustrated by butterfrog

The story is told from the perspective of Royden Poole, a miserable and sarcastic dwarf of Indian descent. Boomer clearly delights in occupying the head of his unusual protagonist, as he takes frequent opportunities to remind readers that Royden is brown-skinned, short, and grumpy. It took me a while to get used to Royden's voice, as at first it comes on a bit thick while the plot is still getting warmed up. It's hard to enjoy a story told by someone as clearly depressed as Royden Poole. Once things start rolling, though, it helps to have Royden's commentary on events as otherwise it would be much harder to tell what's going on.

The cover warns that the book is for mature readers only, and with good reason. I don't consider myself particularly squeamish when it comes to books, but there were parts that made me wish for brain bleach. The book satisfies its "adults only" tag in just about every conceivable way, and usually in twisted and supernatural ways. Of course, this is really the book's selling point, and the part that I can say the least about, because the whole appeal is that you discover it on your own.

Boomer, through Royden, tries to keep the reader filled in on the supernatural rules and consequences, and then he builds on that with several simultaneous plots and counter-plots. Characters double-cross each other and everyone has a secret agenda, so that toward the end I was just hanging on and taking Royden's word for it that things were happening for a reason.

I didn't realize that the book has a sequel planned until I got to the end, so I was surprised that a major plot thread is left unresolved. I wouldn't even say that I enjoyed the story, but it was quite an experience. Still, if you're not squeamish and are looking for something that's completely off the beaten path, from a mad dimension where 'The Beaten Path' is actually a club with a 300-pound bouncer with a unicorn's horn growing from his forehead whose "Mom" tattoo depicts your mother*, then maybe check out The Hole Behind MidnightYou can get the the ebook version from Broken Eye Books.

* While this character does not actually appear in The Hole Behind Midnight, it was my attempt to channel Clinton J. Boomer.


  1. What a wonderful review - I can't believe it missed it!

    Just so you know, the ebook version on Lulu is no longer available - the book, in PDF and Kindle and all other digital formats, is now out through my awesome publisher at Broken Eye Books!

  2. Aww, you make me blush! I'm so tickled/horrified that you've found my blog.

    I have updated the link to point to the Broken Eye Books site.