Review: The Sound of Broken Ribs by Edward Lorn

By Edward Lorn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I haven’t read much of Edward Lorn’s work previously; just a few short stories and his recently-released DarkFuse novella, Fairy Lights. I knew of Bay’s End, but had never visited there previously. Still, when Lorn, who I follow and occasionally converse with on social media, offered up some ARCs for his latest, I jumped at the chance. I’ve liked what little I’ve read of his stuff well enough to want to check out more, and his publisher, Thunderstorm Books, approved me for an advanced copy of The Sound of Broken Ribs.

Right from the outset, I was gripped by this book. If life events didn’t so routinely rear their heads, I probably would have read this book in a single sitting. Having to spread it out over a few days, though, wasn’t a bad way to read it either, since it gave me time to savor the story and Lorn’s unique way with words.

Like myself, Lorn is a big fan of Stephen King and the horror master has certainly influenced both of our own authorial works. I don’t know if it’s meant to be a deliberate reflection on personal events that King himself dealt with, or if it’s simply where Lorn’s muse took him, but King’s hit and run accident seems to be a pretty clear, and pretty giant, influence on this book.

Lei is an author, and while out for her morning run, she gets struck by a car. The driver, Belinda, is a shattered woman – only moments before the accident, her husband deserted her, made off with all her money, and she’s just gotten an eviction notice. She’s eager to ruin somebody and spread the pain around, so when she sees a jogger on the side of the road, all she’s gotta do is nudge the wheel and…BAM! Lei barely survives, her body is mauled and mutilated, but her life is saved. She was at death’s door, though, right on the cusp, and she’s brought back a little something with her.

This story. Holy crap, this story. The medical aspects here, from Lei’s numerous and horrifying injuries to her painful recovery and hospital stay, are uncomfortably realistic. Lorn has a knack for making her pain vivid and intimate, and I caught myself squirming more than a few times. His attention to detail is on point in a number of instances, and there’s plenty of surprises throughout, which only served to further keep my eyeballs glued to my Kindle. Some of those surprises are as heartbreaking as they are shocking, and Lorn isn’t shy about dispatching cast members to further his story (something I really got an education on in his brutal Fairy Lights).

The Sound of Broken Ribs is both beautiful and bleak, oftentimes simultaneously. It’s also encouraged me to take another trip back to Bay’s End, and I’m planning on digging through Lorn’s earlier works at my earliest opportunity. I need to know what else I’ve been missing out on.

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[Note: I received an advanced copy of this title from the author by approval from the publisher, Thunderstorm Books.]

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Michael Patrick Hicks

Michael Patrick Hicks is the author of the science fiction novels Convergence, an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013 Quarter-Finalist, and Emergence. His work has appeared in several anthologies, and he has written for the websites Graphic Novel Reporter and Audiobook Reviewer. In between compulsively buying books and adding titles that he does not have time for to his Netflix queue, he is hard at work on his next story.

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