Originally posted on Wordpress July 2013.
Earlier this year, I was recommended a serial-novel released in the form of bi-monthly podcasts by my next-door neighbor. To release a book in this segmented-audio format seemed new and quite clever to me. I wondered why I hadn’t thought of it first. Anyhow, that book was Tincture: An Apocalyptic Proposition, Book 1, and about two weeks after my friend’s recommendation, I had blown through all 19 chapters of the story. I listened to the roughly 30-minute episodes on my way to and from work, and the entire experience was riveting. I COULD. NOT. WAIT to get to each new chapter. Honest.
Tincture is (as presented by the title) a post-apocalyptic story, but to me it stood out above the over-done, same-old-zombie-story slew of post-apocalyptic material available today. There be no zombies here. Rather, one will find nomadic people with failing memories wandering a dusty landscape, a hermitic group of violent religious fanatics who paint all things white and wield hammers, a psychotic sheriff with an army and a town in his clutches, and mysterious little glass bottles of ferment known as tinctures. All of this takes place in a world ravaged by The Whatever during a time where time itself is evasive.
Explanation as to what the tinctures are is scarce and seemingly left intentionally ambiguous. The concoctions themselves are stewed and fermented with particular care by tincture artists, and the mixtures have varying properties, ingredients, and uses. The liquids are never given proper names, but are distinguished only by their colors and smells, and often the creator alone seems to know how to use each one properly.
The main drama of Book One involves the aforementioned psychotic sheriff (Aphulan, Sheriff of Allgood, being this fellow’s name) forcing a trio of weary travelers to fetch him a whole hell of a lot of one particular tincture ingredient. These unfortunate travelers, our heroes, are the quiet and reclusive Rhamuel, the hot-headed and talented Abranyah (also a tincture artist, mind you), and a portly fool of a chap named Marcus (with a few talents up his own sleeve) whom they pick up along the way. This journey across the wind- and dust-wrecked landscape is where the story really opens up to adventure… and a whole lot of crap going really badly for the lovable trio.
Tincture is a book with split timelines; the primary one focusing on the present in the unknown length of time after The Whatever shook the earth, but a secondary narrative pokes it’s head in every now and again to give the reader some hints into what our heroes may have been like in their previous lives. This adds a delightful element of mystery. There is a careful `slow-reveal’ going on as the story progresses. This is not a tale that tells all it’s secrets at once; alas, even by the end of Book One, there are some questions still unanswered, which makes one all the more hungry for the sequel.
Matthew Jordan’s writing is sharp, witty, and peppered with an old-world vocabulary that well compliments the overall feel of the world he has created. There is more than a little western-genre feel to Tincture, but it is western of a weary and broken sort with all the light-hearted silliness grinded out of it. Also, no horses (but there are a few clunker-vehicles still running around). Twisted into this are subtle tones of sci-fi and a dash of otherworldly horror. Somehow, Jordan has crafted what I consider a mostly dark and heavy story of an intensely dangerous world, and yet humor is present. There are moments that are downright funny, and this is a feat in a story of this sort.
Fans of Stephen King may find a little extra enjoyment here, as there are a number of… oh, `Easter Eggs‘ that loosely mention the Stephen King universe, though this is not fan-fiction nor meant to take place in any version of King’s world. That said, I believe fans of The Dark Tower series will absolutely love Tincture, as there is an element of similarity between the two works (though, again I reiterate, this is a stand-alone work worthy of consideration apart from all of that).
So basically? If you can appreciate westerns, sci-fi, gunfights, post-apocalyptic propositions of how the world might look, or just generally like really weird fiction, just buy this already. It blew me away on multiple levels, plus the chapters for Book Two are being released as we speak, and this is an author you will want to be able to say you were on the ground-floor with: because he’s going places.
P.S. Get Book 1 on Kindle here.