In this new and short release from bestselling author Peter Straub, it’s a story that seems ordinary and tame at first, as the reader gets introduced and interested in two unique characters, but eventually becomes dark and scary and despairing. By the end of the 96 pages of The Ballad of Ballard and Sandrine, it is quite a different tale that the reader may want to hide away somewhere.
The story of these two lovers, Ballard and Sandrine, takes place over a period of 25 years, as the reader learns of their relationship at different points in time from chapter to chapter, which takes place in the same setting: a trip by riverboat down the exotic Amazon. While there is a large gap in age between the main characters — they apparently fell in love when Ballard, in his twenties, saw Sandrine, when she was fifteen, for the first time — they are besotted with each other and get up to lots of fun on these boat trips. But then the dark side begins to creep in, with a story of blood and murder.
Overall, the story is somewhat disappointing, as Straub plays a little too much on the “exotic” nature of the Amazon and the natives, while the horror aspects of the story come as kind of surprise. A longer novella or even novel might’ve allowed for more development in these areas, nevertheless The Ballad of Ballard and Sandrine is an interesting experiment in what Straub was trying to do.
Originally written on December 18, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.
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