Burn Cards by Christopher Irvin is the second book I have read that is published by 280 Steps Publishing and I am already seeing a trend; they are publishing strong, well-plotted books that keep the reader invested from beginning to end. It is great to see yet another small publisher making a name for themselves by publishing some great up and coming authors.
Burn Cards is a quick paced novella that takes place in Reno and shows us that a loser never wins and often pulls everyone around them down into the gutter. Mirna Fowler is trying to claw her way into a better life by working at a salon and saving all her money so she can find a place to go start the life she dreams of. But her gambling-addicted father seems to always be standing in her way and he is always looking to her for handouts and favors. Although everyone around her tells her to cut him loose, the love she has for him seems to always pull her back into his gravitational downspin.
Things go from bad to worse when her father checks out of life, leaving Mirna holding the bag for his huge debt to a local loan shark. After she loses the little bit of money she has managed to save to the collection efforts of the loan shark, she realizes she has to make a desperate move to free herself from the clutches of her dead father and Reno itself or she will end up in the same low places she has always found her father.
“During the day, Reno looks like any other western tourist destination; an aging downtown surrounded by clustered suburban neighborhoods, tracts of fast food and mini-malls…At night, the city is awash in strange colored light that’s visible for miles. Some say you can read the mood of the city by the dominant color of neon. The might be right, it’s been blue for years.”
I found Irvin’s ability to bring the dreary Reno landscape to life to be a brilliant part of this novel. He goes behind the bright lights and glittery façade to find the heartbreaking truth of a dingy, tired, vortex-like town that sucks the life out of people before they even recognize what is happening. A fall from the top can be a hard one, but Irvin shows that a fall from a low spot can be equally hurtful and soul wrecking.
The novella was over before I knew it and I wanted more. Mirna could definitely become a recurring character for Irvin and I would be interested to see where he could take her. But in the meanwhile, I will be seeking out previous works from Irvin. That speaks to the true beauty of beginning this blog; I am finding many new authors that have great works out there. I hope I can help shed the light on some of these authors and help others to find the great depth of writing talent that is out there. Seek and ye shall find.