“The Beached Ones” by Colleen M. Story

The Beached Ones

Colleen M. Story
CamCat Publishing, LLC (2022)
ISBN:  9780744305340
Reviewed by Terri Stepek for Reader Views (10/22)

A surreal scene opens “The Beached Ones” as the main character, Daniel, awakens to a world that doesn’t make sense. He’s alone in the sand dunes as whales begin to beach themselves. His last memory is the extreme motorsports show he was driving in. Why is he on this beach? Why is he alone? Why are these whales acting so crazy??

Daniel A. Shepard is a survivor. A protector. A fighter, and a dreamer. He overcame tremendous odds, climbing out of the tempest of his childhood, landing his dream job, and returning to rescue his younger brother from the same neglectful and abusive childhood. He is a genuinely good guy, no thanks to his parents. The absentee father appears to be the more caring parent in this household: at least he had the decency to leave. If it weren’t for the tender attention and love of an elderly neighbor, Daniel and his brother Tony could easily have been lost to an uncaring world.

The author, Colleen Story, deftly weaves this story through a series of flashbacks to Daniel’s childhood, dancing on the edges of his mind as he tries to navigate strange surroundings and bizarre events. He questions much about his current state, and he should. The only thing he knows with a clarity that holds his heart together is that he needs to be in San Francisco in a few days to pick up his little brother Tony.

As the story unfolds, there are plenty of questions. Nothing seems to make sense. The world isn’t right. People aren’t right. Nearly everyone treats Daniel like he’s invisible, with the exception of a former girlfriend, Jolene, and her current boyfriend, Brent. Neither Jolene nor Brent seem happy that Daniel has turned up, but they agree to get him to San Francisco.

There is so much happening in this storyline that the reader’s patience is necessary. Each page, each new chapter, seems to bring more questions. The author spins her story well but keeps her readers in suspense as the questions mount to a nearly unbearable degree. As the answers finally start to come, we almost wish they wouldn’t. This strange and peculiar story has a decidedly dark, visceral edge. To call it haunting might understate the matter.

Daniel and Tony are the bright lights in this shadowy tale. Daniel’s love for his brother, his drive to rescue Tony from their unbearable childhood, and his determination to be a rock of strength for his brother are what makes him such a remarkable person. In the gloomy depths of their struggle, there is an overwhelming beauty. It is often when a person chooses to hold out their hand to help another that they most help themselves. This generous nature, this unbound love, burns out the gloom of this story like fog around the Golden Gate Bridge, allowing us to truly appreciate the tragedies and triumphs of this remarkable story. There is glory in the paradox.

Readers should note that there is a theme of suicide within this storyline. If trigger points are an issue, please consider carefully whether this read is a good fit for you. Having given this caveat, I can heartily recommend “The Beached Ones” by Colleen M. Story for readers who enjoy paranormal/ghost stories, and for those who delight in a good, angsty, thought-provoking read.

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