The Book of Accidents was my first Chuck Wendig novel. I’m not even really sure how I happened upon it. Perhaps some reddit thread or one of the various book websites that pop into my view while wasting time on the internet. Regardless, I found it. I purchased it. I read it.
And I liked it! And my wife liked it. I generally know while reading something if Sarah is going to click with it. Some stuff—particularly the deep genre science fiction and fantasy books—just isn’t for her. We have different tastes on some things. That’s ok! But when I encounter a novel that has strong horror vibes, a good hook, and a fun mystery to work through without wallowing in bleakness, I can be pretty sure she’s going to enjoy it.
The Book of Accidents is one of those books. What starts off as a story of a man reconciling the death of his estranged father evolves into an inter-dimensional, cosmic mystery. And, boy, what a ride. I don’t usually care about spoilers. It seems to me that the fun of something is the journey, not the destination. But this book has a whole lot of fun twists that I didn’t anticipate and won’t ruin for you. Sarah wanted to talk about the plot while she was reading it, but I refused so as not to ruin the revelations that lay in wait. It took some significant willpower on my part.
The novel absolutely rips along with a tempo that never gives you a moment to stop coupled with short chapters that often kept me up way too late to finish just one more. Wendig here rivals Joe Hill’s NOS4A2 or any Brandon Sanderson novel in keeping me awake reading. It’s rare that a novel can keep me up for longer than 5 or 10 pages at night, leading to me often dragging out novels for much longer than strictly necessary. But I flew through this book in only a few weeks. Fast for me.
If I had one complaint about the book, it’s that Wendig likes to reference real world media, much like Stephen King, to whom this book’s style owes quite a bit. The characters can’t help but mention this month’s popular meme or Dungeons and Dragons or whatever. It’s a quibble, and it is probably just a personal thing, but I’ve never liked this sort of reference. It takes me out of the story’s world just a little, breaks the spell just enough. I like my fourth wall, damn it. If you’re going to break it, do it for something worth more than making a comment about your favorite table top roleplaying game.
Would I recommend this one? Definitely. If you’re looking for a fun, fast-paced horror novel, get it. If you’re not looking for those things, but still enjoy a well-written mystery story with some supernatural elements, get it. If all this sounds like the most uninteresting thing in the world to you, I don’t know, go listen to a TED Talk or something.