The Fort by Aric Davis pulls you in with its splendid cover artwork and intriguing synopsis. You are lead to believe you are going to experience a coming-of-age tale in the late 80’s along the side of a dark murder mystery. This is enough to entice any reader, but did the book deliver?
With the book feeling like a rough draft outline, I would say it didn’t. We are introduced to the child characters without being given any time to get to know them. We never get a chance to know what it was like growing up for them other than that their parents are awful, sometimes cartoonish in their anger, and meet up at their fort to get away. We are also introduced to a vet missing a few noodles and held down while we watch him torture and rape. Childhood is weird, ain’t it?
Marred by abrupt tonal shifts, the concept laid out in the synopsis is lost in the mix because Davis is attempting to provide us with an Adult level story at a YA pace. On one page you’ll be trying to relate to the child characters and bombarded with violence and rape a few pages later. With the ugly side of things being Davis’ focus, the book could have had a much stronger punch if the murder mystery didn’t kick into gear till about a hundred pages in, giving us, the readers, time to sympathize with the protagonists.
Your opinion of the ending will hinge greatly on whether or not you disagree with what I’ve mentioned above. Perhaps you felt that your sympathy and caring for the characters had been earned.
2/5 (Extra star for concept)
Thomas William Shaw is an author and stage actor from Birmingham, AL. He lives with his wife, Lauren, their children, and their cats in a quiet place. Occasionally he will post about it.