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Autumn Bleeds Into Winter Jeff Strand Main

"Autumn Bleeds Into Winter" Book Review

Written by Steve Pattee

Independently Published

autumn bleeds into winter jeff strand poster large

Written by Jeff Strand
2020, 254 pages, Fiction
Released on September 18th, 2020

Review:

Autumn Bleeds Into Winter is Jeff Strand’s best book to date. Granted, I haven’t read all of Strand’s books, but I’ve read my fair share of them and I’ve yet to be disappointed. But with this one, he has reset the bar to an incredibly high level.

It certainly doesn’t hurt that the book falls into one of my favorite subgenres of horror, the coming-of-age genre. I can’t put my finger on why exactly I love it so much, but some of my favorite books are ones like The Body by Stephen King (yes, I’m aware it’s more of a novella), Children of the Dark by Jonathan Janz, Skullface Boy by Chad Lutzke, Ghoul by Brian Keene, any coming-of-age by Joe Lansdale, and, if I can get meta, Fangboy by Jeff Strand. There are tons more I could name, but I’m not talking about those books. I’m talking about Autumn Bleeds Into Winter and why you need to buy it.

What would you do if you were not only the last person to see your best friend alive, but you also witnessed the car he got into, who was driving, and you even knew who the vehicle owner was? Well, if you’re 14-year-old Curtis Black, you buy a gun and confront Gerald Martin, the suspected killer. Yeah, this does not work out well for Curtis.

There’s a lot to love about Autumn Bleeds Into Winter, mainly how utterly believable the whole thing is. Curtis is 14. He’s not even a bright 14. He’s just your average kid. And like your average kid, he lacks all of the wisdom and experience that an adult like Gerald has. Curtis thinks he can just waltz into this guy’s home, point a gun at him, get some answers, and turn the man over to the police. (I thought he would too.) But the only thing the boy manages is to get some answers, and not even all of them, before the tables are turned.

Don’t worry, all of that happens in the first pages, and that’s where I’m going to leave it.

Jeff Strand is in peak form here, and just like Curtis’ friend Todd, once you are in the car with Strand, you’re in for the entire ride. Curtis is trying his best to get justice for his friend, but he’s in way over his head. This isn’t Gerald’s first rodeo, and he’s been at his game for a while. He’s not about to lose to some punk kid. How this is handled can make or break a story. Have you ever read something where the character is way too smart, and it takes you out of the story somewhat? You’re not going to find that here. Curtis is average, as mentioned, and while Gerald clearly has the upper hand on the teen, he’s not a rocket scientist either. He’s just smarter than Curtis, and that’s just one of the things that make this story real.

What also adds to the believability of Autumn Bleeds Into Winter is how Strand makes the book about Curtis. Sure, the overall arc is catching a serial killer, but the teen does have a life outside of hunting a murderer. Little things like his awkward interactions with his girlfriend really bring you closer to the character and propel you to root for him even harder. Even his handling of the school bully and the repercussion of that incident makes sense. Everything in this book works, from the kidnapping to the inevitable showdown.

Naturally, Strand’s trademark humor and gore are found here, but this is more of a restrained Strand that I’m used to, and that’s not a bad thing at all. This, like the other things I mentioned, adds to the realism. Sure, there are funny scenes, but the book has a levity to it that keeps it grounded. Again, it’s but another example of the range and skill of Jeff Strand.

I’m going to repeat myself because it’s true. This is Jeff Strand’s best work to date. If you haven’t had the pleasure of reading anything of his, unfuck that and start here.

Grades:

Overall: 5 Star Rating Cover
Buy from Amazon US
Cover
Buy from Amazon UK

About The Author
Steve Pattee
Author: Steve Pattee
Administrator, US Editor
He's the puppet master. You don't see him, but he pulls the strings that gets things done. He's the silent partner. He's black ops. If you notice his presence, it's the last thing you'll notice — because now you're dead. He's the shadow you thought you saw in that dark alleyway. You can have a conversation with him, and when you turn around to offer him a cup of coffee, he's already gone.
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