Grief is a powerful thing, and it can easily become all consuming. I know this all too well, and have noticed that it’s become a theme within some of the books I’ve recently read. For instance, I finally got around to reading Lisey’s Story by Stephen King earlier this summer, and just finished a review copy of Come With Me by Ronald Malfi. Both books share some obvious similarities, although they end up being very different tales.
This particular review will centre upon the latter book, which marks my first Ronald Malfi read. He’s an author you don’t hear a lot about, despite his books seeming to be well liked. Going further, he’s also someone who’s writing I’d been wanting to read for years now. I’ve borrowed several of his novels from the library on more than one occasion, but simply haven’t gotten to them due to other engagements. I’m trying to rectify this, and recently picked some of them up when they were on sale.
If Come With Me is any indication of his previously published works, I’m sure I’ll end up being a big fan.
Come With Me is the story of a man named Aaron Decker. Widowed in his early thirties, he’s struggling to find meaning after the loss of his beloved but cryptic wife, Allison. It doesn’t help that Allison’s life was taken tragically and without warning, when she was involved in a spur of the moment mass shooting at a local, Maryland-based strip mall. It’s even said that she tried to stop the killer before he hurt anyone else, which led to her sacrificing her own life in the process.
Things pick up on the last day of Allison Decker’s life, at which point she wakes early and tries to get her husband to accompany her to the local strip mall for some Christmas shopping and a nice meal. Tired and lazy, Aaron declines, but feels the need to watch her leave from the window of their second floor bedroom. He doesn’t know why, but it feels important.
After learning of his wife’s death in an unfortunate way, our protagonist finds himself lost and unsure of what to do with himself. It’s not long after this that a random box of items from Allison’s desk at work — where she wrote a local column for a small, community newspaper — appears on his doorstep. Grieving and uninterested in dealing with such reminders, Aaron puts the box aside, but eventually pulls it out and goes through things at least several days later. It’s then that he discovers something strange: a bill for a motel in the middle of nowhere, North Carolina.
As is often the case with people in relationships, Aaron’s first thought involves infidelity. However, he soon realizes that there was a lot about Allison that he didn’t know, including her obsession with finding someone important.
Thus begins a very interesting, poignant and well written story about a man who discovers his wife’s dark and hidden secret. The result is a story that is more of a crime and investigation story, or mystery, than it is a true horror book. It’s important to know this before starting, but it shouldn’t prevent you from reading this quality tale, even if you were hoping for something scary. This isn’t to say that there aren’t horrific elements involved here, because there’s lots of those. It’s just not a typical horror story.
As I said earlier, this is my first time reading something written by Ronald Malfi. It certainly won’t be my last! From the start, I was very impressed with the author’s writing and his use of similes and metaphors. His sentence structure is very good, his writing is clear but intelligently worded, and he’s easily one of the best writers I’ve read thus far. Even if I hadn’t already purchased four or five of his books, I’d make a point of reading more as soon as possible.
I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention Aaron Decker; the main character. Although he reminded me of Lisa Landon from Lisey’s Story, his plight ended up being a lot different, and he felt like a unique and real life person. The amount of depth that Mr. Malfi was able to give his protagonist is nothing short of amazing, and by the end of the story I felt like I knew said person. I also liked this particular novel more than Stephen King’s, although I enjoyed both.
If you’re looking for a great read, look no further than Come With Me by Ronald Malfi. While it wasn’t exactly what I expected, I ended up loving it all the same.
This review is based on a copy of the book that we were provided with.