Puzzleman by Christopher Alan Broadstone is one ambitious novel. When you first start reading it you think its going to be a gruesome horror novel meant to shock people. That’s exactly what it is, but as you start reading you find there is a lot of depth to the story and characters. The story begins with a woman named Amanda buying an earring that looks like a ball of metal wires. Amanda is recently divorced and her infant child has died leaving her bitter and wondering where her life went wrong.
Little does she know that the earring will soon lead her to some answers she doesn’t want. Amanda isn’t the only one searching for answers in Puzzleman. We soon meet a legless heroin addict named Erik who wants vengeance, a professor named John who feels his life has passed him by, a French vintner named Jeannette who wants to revisit a lost love and a former detective named Ben who wants to get back into the game. All of the characters are searching for something and all of their destinies are intertwined in the Puzzleman’s maze like pipeworld.
The pipeworld is a place where life is eternal but is also a place of suffering. It’s a place of living nightmares crawling with grumemonsters but also a place where the five people in the story can find what they are missing. The Pipeworld is like a giant macabre puzzle with the puzzleman as the master and the people as the pieces. The question is, can the pieces find the answers they seek and escape with their sanity?
My Favorite character in Puzzleman was Amanda, this is a woman who has questioned god and everything else around her since she was a child. It almost seems like god is punishing her for her questions with the death of her young child and her abusive husband. She shows how tough she is in the pipeworld though by not giving up even when things are at their worst. I loved how towards the end she makes a comment to the Puzzleman that shows that her viewpoints on god have not changed and I enjoyed the Puzzleman’s reaction to the comment. Another thing I liked in the story was finding out why her husband was the way he was. My only problem with the story was that there was a long section on the mythology behind the Puzzleman. I felt the section was to long and took the reader out of the story and would have been better if it was divided into segments within the story and not just one big chunk.
There is a lot going on in this book, it starts as a horror novel then turns into a text-book on world mythology and then goes back to being a horror novel. This isn’t just any horror novel though, it asks some important questions such as What are you willing to do for the ones you love? What would you do for eternal life? and Why does god allow so much misery? This is a thinking man’s horror novel. It delivers the scares and the gore but it also makes you think. In fact you might have to read it twice to understand everything that Christopher Alan Broadstone is trying to say. Puzzleman is Mr. Broadstone’s first novel and it will be interesting to see what he has in store for future novels.