“These Nameless Things” by Shawn Smucker is one part allegory, one part re-imagining of Dante’s Inferno, several parts great storytelling, and all remaining parts pure inspiration.
On the surface, this is the story of a man who escaped a terrible place and now waits for his brother to do the same. However, there is a lot more going on here than what is evident on the surface.
The focus is on a few major characters, and all of them are drawn in vivid detail. Early on, I felt like I really knew Dan, Abe, and Miho. (That’s truly a gift, by the way….when an author is able to make you feel connected to characters almost as soon as you meet them.) As I read on, and learned more about each one, that connection deepened. Each one is realistic, unique, and well worth learning more about.
There are also mysterious elements in this book. As the reader learns more about the characters and their pasts, you’ll try to solve the mystery of what (if any) connections they have along with them. You’ll also try to figure out what the mysterious mountain actually is, and what happened there, as well as ponder the significance of leaving the village and heading east. I enjoyed trying to figure everything out along with Dan. Don’t worry….everything you don’t learn on your own will be explained in the end.
There’s a fair bit of action during one part of the book, but I won’t discuss it to avoid spoilers. Suffice it to say that, in the end, you’ll come away with a complete understanding of what actually happened to the characters. Hopefully you’ll also come away with some new knowledge about yourself and your life.
My recommendation: Read this book! Read it for the story of a man and his brother fighting to overcome the odds. Read it for what you’ll learn from it, and walk away with. Most of all, read it because it’s just a really good, well-written story!