Review | The Boy Who Walked Too Far – Dom Watson

About the Book

It’s the end of the universe, and everything has come undone. Entropy has won the war, but one last battle rages in the half-ruined city of Testament.

No one knows who created this last outpost and peopled it with billions of species. However, it is here, under a sky with no stars, that the last remnants of life in the universe live, love, and pray to their many gods. It is here where Godrich Felstrom dies. 

Most residents of Testament care little for the affairs of a single, fragile human, but the event brings back bad memories for Heironymous Xindii.

It has been many years since the dreamurlurgy professor discovered his true potential and doomed four people in the process. Now, he lectures to bored students who dream of the many pleasures Testament has to offer. Xindii, on the other hand, becomes obsessed with the mysterious Godrich and his missing soul. As he and his valiant companion, the Neanderthal Solomon Doomfinger, look back at Felstrom’s last steps, they discover the shocking truth about Felstrom’s death, his destiny, and the future of Testament and all those angels, demons, liars, and dreamers who call it home.

Published September 2020
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This book is really hard for me to peg, and that’s probably part of why I enjoyed it so much. I tend to feel a kinship for books and authors who take a left turn off the tried-and-true path and go do their own thing. There isn’t a whole lot about The Boy Who Walked Too Far that I’ll be able to compare to anything else out there. This book is the literary version of a Salvador Dalí painting. It’s all fine and good until you realize it’s melting.

Or something.

And honestly, that’s going to be why you’ll either love it or hate it. I recommend being in the right mood before you read this book. You need to want lyrical, almost purple prose. You need to want weird. You need to be willing to work for the story. Mostly, you need to be in one of those moods where paying acute attention to detail is something you’re excited about. This won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but for those who like that sort of thing, you’ll love this one. It’s exactly what you’ve been looking for. 

It’s complicated, and I hesitate to say too much about the plot or I’ll give it away. The book took about a hundred pages to really hook me, so I’d qualify it as a slow burn, at least to start. It, at times, feels directionless, the plot meandering and aimless, and at other times it feels as directed as a perfectly aimed arrow. As things get going, there’s a point where I could really tell Watson was sinking into his story and getting comfortable with what he was doing, and it was from about that spot on where the book really got going. 

Here, you have a dark story where, the further you go, the line between reality and dream/fantasy blurs. You have a cast of absolutely surreal characters rooted in a mystery on the one hand, but on the other this book truly is about friendship and relationships, about dreams and reality, about how bonds form and how our choices can impact our world in both large and small ways.  

Xindii is a character that almost worked for me but not quite hit the mark. It took me some time to figure out why, and I think it’s because his perspective is so cerebral, I never quite understood him, despite how much time I spent with him. Doomfinger, on the other hand, kept Xindii nicely balanced. Functioning as a sort of Sherlock/Watson duo, the pair even each other out quite well. 

There’s a mystery at the core of this book, and the further you get into it, the less I really grasped what was going on. I will admit, that sounds like a negative, but it ended up being a positive. I couldn’t anticipate any part of this narrative and I’ve never seen such imaginative worldbuilding. The confusion and curiosity ultimately were the thing that pushed me forward and made me keep going. I wanted to see just what was possible when an author broke all the rules, and did so gleefully. I was absolutely enchanted by just what Watson was doing with his book, his characters, mostly his world. 

The Boy Who Walked Too Far is dark. There’s a lot of blood and gore, abuse and other situations what will likely make some readers uncomfortable. However, Watson’s writing pulled me through. I am a sucker for a dark book written beautifully, and that’s what you get here. Though, this is another reason why I think some readers might bounce/need to be aware before going into the book. There are some scenes that might push you in ways you don’t anticipate or aren’t comfortable with. You’ll get through it, but you should be aware, there is plenty trigger-worthy content here. 

Ultimately, The Boy Who Walked Too Far was unexpected. Dark and cerebral, I think perhaps its biggest flaw is sometimes it gets a bit too lost in itself and loses sight of the plot and forward momentum. It’s one of those books you have to pay attention to, because everything is strange and weird and wonderful. The worldbuilding is unlike anything I’ve seen before, and the plot mirrors that. Told in an untraditional (to say the least) way, this book is what happens when someone breaks all the rules and does it well. 

Is it for everyone? No, absolutely not. This book will polarize audiences, but those who do enjoy cerebral stories, dark content, and gorgeous prose will find something truly special with this book. 

4/5 stars