Everything Ravaged Everything Burned: a review

Everything Ravaged Everything Burned

by Wells Tower

This is a book of short stories any established writer would be proud of – that they’ve been produced by a debut author makes them more remarkable still. Plaudits and prizes are pouring in for Wells Tower’s debut book, and deservedly so, it is a rare gem. Skeins of the bizarre run through recognisable norms in this collection – or sometimes the reverse – presenting scenarios easily related to with writing ability that is all too rare.

Each story in Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned is distinctive and perfectly formed. Often populated by characters either in conflict with themselves or their surroundings, this book crafts the experience, love and anger of the young and old, capturing with his impeccable style and disturbing understanding the happenstance of everyday and every life existence. From fractured families, an alzheimic father or a teenage girl to a blithe and happy paedophile, even a Viking marauder, relating the politics of pillage, all the characters seem recognisable and terrifyingly sympathetic.

Tower’s themes are often dark, but his humour and writing are remarkable, crafting sentences that bring forth unexpected laughs like you’ve just had the Heimlich Manoeuvre. These short stories could be scattered jewels but, combined in a single collection, they’re a treasure of significant proportions.

(Have a look at this lovingly created animation of the title story▼)

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