| | Bead's Pickle - Carolyn Hill (aka Brown Rat)
Having self published my early work, and read more than my fair share of the self published work of others, it should not be taken lightly that I would describe Bead's Pickle by Carolyn Hill as the best written self published book that I've come across. (And yes, I include my own books within that scope.)
It did take me a few chapters to get into the quirky, off-beat storyline, but once hooked, I finished the vast majority of the book in one sitting. The writing style is clean and polished, and her unique writing voice clearly displays her love for playing with words.
One has to feel sorry for Bead McCheckrovsky. It is clear from the outset that life has dealt her some pretty tough breaks. Yet despite her troubled background she has built a place for herself running a fast food franchise aboard the aging starship cruise liner Anarchy. What makes her likeable from the start is that her reaction to her own misfortunes has been to reach out to others in trouble and seek to give them the help and love that she has lacked in her own life. If that means her staff in the Daisy Fresh fast food restaurant are an oddball cast that cause her little but trouble and heartache, then that appears fine by Bead. She has adopted them as her surrogate family and is determined to prevent shadows of the past from ruining their corporate dream of freedom and a life amongst the stars.
As one would expect, things quickly go awry. One event after another link together in a sequence that seems set to shatter Bead's dreams and break up the bunch of misfits she considers her family. However, there is one freak twist of fate that looks as if it could offer her a light at the end of her very dark tunnel ... if only she can figure out how to use it to her advantage.
Carolyn piles on the agony for Bead in great style, with so many problems and adversaries that it becomes impossible to see quite how Bead will turn things around. The plotting of this book is tight and complex, and the feel-good ending left me keen to read more. My only minor criticism is that I felt there were too many members of her 'family' for me to really 'know' them all. Despite the large cast, however, Carolyn managed to give each a distinctive character and a part to play, so it took little from the clever story and the emotive writing style.
Whilst this story doesn't have a mass-market feel to it, I feel sure that there is a considerable niche in the SF market just waiting for Carolyn to jump in and fill. Her writing is original and clever, with a touch of humour that will leave those who read her work with a warm afterglow of satisfaction.
I heartily encourage you to give this book a go, and hope that someone in the publishing industry will sit up and take notice that Carolyn has arrived!