This beautiful story, written by Dryler, begins with our lead character Bella Swan re-reading a letter she has received from reclusive author, Ethan Church.
In Bella’s words, Church’s books are about people dying; not necessarily physical dying, but their minds and emotions slowly fading until nothing but empty shells remain. She is shocked and assumes that a mistake has occurred when she receives an offer to pen his autobiography. A translator by profession, she is lost as to the reasoning behind this request and replies back explaining the misunderstanding, seemingly putting the event behind her.
On a routine trip to a bookstore, curiosity gets the better of Bella and she finds herself drawn to a copy of one of Ethan’s novels and subsequently unable to put it down. Here is where Dryler so masterfully begins weaving the mystery into her story. Bella finds herself pulled into Church’s writing, physically feeling the words and emotion of his prose vibrating within her body, a deep and pulsing feeling that settles in her chest and refuses to leave. She purchases all his published works and takes them home, withdrawing from life, unable to pull away until she’s finished them all. Throughout this time, she experiences a feeling as if she’s being watched. Is this reality or something brought on by her over stimulated senses? At this point, we as the readers are in the dark.
We learn more about Church. He’s an enigma, having written 48 novels without ever being interviewed. No one knows what he looks like, how old he is or even where he’s from. The end of the first chapter finds Bella with yet another letter from him, this time containing a stack of legal documents, a check, and a simple note:
I assure you there has been no misunderstanding. EC
To say that this gave me goose bumps would be an understatement.
Our adventure begins. We follow Bella as she travels to Washington to meet Church. We find him to be an enigmatic, frail, elderly man and watch as she explores the beautiful yet supposedly haunted grand house and grounds known as Ferndale.
There is a constant undertone of mystery as we read of thunderstorms, darkened hallways, and flashes of a beautiful figure which appear and disappear in the blink of an eye. Bella sees him yet again as she slips out of bed on a moonlit night and follows a path into a winding hedge maze. Who is this man? Is he a ghost, a figment of her imagination? And why does he always accompany the same familiar pull and physical humming in her chest?
The author has managed to beautifully weave a tale of suspense around characters we care about and want to hear more from. The ideas are clear, each word painting the scene without unnecessary or overly elaborate wording jumbling up the image. I find myself constantly forming opinions about where this story will lead, knowing only that Dryler certainly has something far greater in mind.
“Ethan Church” was nominated for “Best Original Character WIP” and “Most Original Story Line WIP” at the Indie Twific Awards and is spellbinding from the first word until the most recent chapter, where we finally hear the mysterious figure speak. I haven't been this excited about a new story in a long time and can't wait to see where she takes this.
When not delighting fandom with her Beautiful Bastard in The Office, tby789 is bringing the guiltiest pleasures to the fandom via the Twigasm Podcast.