Review of Chris A. MacKinnon’s The Shoeman Curse
by Ashley Simon
Dusty Shoeman, protagonist of The Shoeman Curse, is a family man with a secret. He loves to write. He’s working on a short story. It’s a thriller about a woman, Janet, who’s recently lost her son to cancer and is undergoing a brand-new therapy that may just screw up her life forever. In the attic study where Janet comes to life, Dusty can lose himself in another world.
But back in the real world, things are spinning out of control. His wife Stella is mad at him, but she won’t tell him why. His kids only notice him when they need something. His co-worker, Hank Stricker, a pessimistic scruffy fellow with a loud, off-key singing voice, has a penchant for getting on Dusty’s nerves. And then there’s the pesky business of The Shoeman Curse, which is a fancy way of saying Everything that can go wrong, will go wrong.
Readers of The Shoeman Curse are sure to fall in love with Dusty Shoeman. He’s the kind of guy you want to hang out with in real life—lighthearted, fun-loving, and full of dad jokes. He’s got a bit of an ego, but he pokes fun at himself before poking fun at anyone else, and his punchy gripings about his family life are sure to strike a chord.
The dialogue in The Shoeman Curse is realistic and makes the characters come to life. I particularly enjoyed Hank Stricker, Dusty’s annoying co-worker. He reminds me of that one kid in class who just won’t shut up, and I found myself rolling my eyes along with Dusty when Hank went on another off-key singing tangent or tried to hurl an ill-timed joke.
On a deeper level, The Shoeman Curse provides a novel and unique look at a dad’s perspective on family life. Because this is a terrain that is usually dominated by female narrators, I was often surprised by the insights that Dusty had into his life as a dad.
Near the middle of the book, the plot seemed to drag. However, excerpts from the story Dusty is writing kept me turning the pages. As a reader, you’ll find yourself equally invested in Janet’s story, which brings a realistic dimension to the character of Dusty Shoeman.
I’d recommend this book for anyone who has a dad in their life or simply enjoys a lighthearted story with memorable characters. Chris A. MacKinnon’s debut novel is sure to delight readers of all ages and backgrounds!