Dream of the Serpent by Alan Ryker
Dream of the Serpent is one of the most gut-wrenching stories I’ve ever read. This says a lot to the writing powers Alan Ryker has developed in a short amount of time. If you’re familiar at all with his work, then you know that Ryker is a very talented story teller with a literary spin on the way he chooses to present his story to his readers.
The book starts off with our introduction to Cody and Maddy and the type of relationship they have along with where they both are in life at this moment before disaster strikes. While talking to his girlfriend, Maddy, over his cell phone while cleaning out the deep frier at work, Cody suffers serious burns. The first part of the novel is about these burns and how it destroys Cody’s professional aspirations and his relationship with Maddy.
Let me tell you, tons of research went into this part of the story that made it feel more than authentic. The things that Cody goes through just to heal is like something from a torture movie. You feel as though you’ve experienced, in some small way, what burn victims have gone through. And, personally, I don’t think I’d come out the other end with flying colors.
About half-way through, the story changes from this hardcore suffering to something strange and, I think, brilliant on the author’s part. The change is drastic, but works so well within this world. It does so because Ryker took the time to prepare us for the change and even wonder, as Cody investigates, at its details.
Throughout the story, themes of guilt, of fire and burning, the Greek mythology of the phoenix gone horribly wrong, of death, and most importantly, love-devotion-and sacrifice play throughout. What we get is a story that is just as heart-wrenching as anything by Joe Hill or Greg F. Gifune.
Don’t read this book if you don’t want to be changed or and effected deeply. If this story doesn’t haunt you and effect you in some way, then you’re probably a different kind of person than I am.