Book Review – Handy Bob by Ocean

First published, 2020

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

“You know, strange things always happen to twelve-year olds. Have you ever noticed that?”

“No? You will.”
From Handy Bob by Ocean

This is a scary story, told by an older lady to her great-niece. As the story progresses, we learn that Handy Bob was an odd man who lived in the old lady’s town – his land was a way away from everyone else, he never bought food, had massive hands, and there was only one phrase in his entire conversation. The kids in the area made up stories about him and his property to scare each other.

As a 12-year old, the great-aunt saw something frightening at Handy Bob’s place and has never told a soul. Until now.

With great economy of language, this story is told in first person. It took me a minute to get used to the closing of speech marks to indicate a space for the niece’s reactions, but I really liked the style of Handy Bob. The great-aunt character was wonderfully entertaining.

A great, creepy little story, it left me wanting more. I’ll look forward to reading more from this author. Recommended.

That said, after a story I enjoyed, there was one issue in the Author’s Notes. As Ocean explains her use of first person, and acknowledges that some people don’t like it, she says, ‘“Call me Ishmael” worked out okay for Charles Dickens.’

My heart near stopped. Unless it’s an in-joke, in which case, I apologise, ‘Call me Ishmael,’ is the first line from Moby Dick by Herman Melville.