Every Kingdom Divided

Review by Paige Ambroziak

This is my first Kozeniewski (“Braineater Jones” is at the top of my TBR list, though) and I feel incredibly grateful to the goddess of a reviewer at Literary Litter for introducing me to his work. In a recent blog post on indie writers, she writes, “Just when you thought everything had been thought of, here comes this man who has original ideas and a natural talent for sharing them with you.” Um, yes. And YES. Let me forgo, for a moment, his incredible wordsmith-ness, his intelligent and witty prose, his vivid world, and his band of unique and colorful characters, and let me just reiterate the above statement: Kozeniewski knows how to invent a story and write it as though it is an effortlessly-wrought tale. In other words, it reads without toil.

In the vein of Philip K. Dick’s “The Man in the High Castle,” “Every Kingdom Divided” offers an alternate, if not too far in the distant future, United States of America. The country is torn apart by a civil war that has Mexico moving upward, reclaiming territory, and Canada in the awkward position of needing a unified southern ally, if only for commerce and trade. The imagined setting is all too real because Kozeniewski is not only an H-E-double hockey sticks of a writer but an intelligent one to boot. The strength of his futuristic USA is in the fine details, and its echoes of the divided and contentious society we live in today. Though he adds so much more, he is well aware of the political and social consequences that may arise if a divided kingdom does in fact split apart.

But what’s more is that he has tied up his sordid and vivid picture of a futuristic, civil-warring America in an entertaining and viable plot with a protagonist, Jack Pasternak, who is too charming not to love. It is Jack, in fact, in front of a firing squad, who draws us into the story, living it in the present and re-living it for us as he tells his tale, playing tour guide through the landscape of an un-United States. I won’t even try to summarize the plot (I rarely do in my reviews) but I will tell you that you can trust this writer and give yourself over to his writing. It is rich. It is playful. And you will be a better reader for having read “Every Kingdom Divided.” Kozeniewski is a master with language (he is a linguist, for heaven’s sake!) and, in an enviable Shakespearean manner, has given birth to some vocabulary that just might catch on.

To writers looking for imaginative and creative writing to inspire them, read Kozeniewski. To readers looking for their next entertaining read, one for which they will secretly hope that Netflix or Amazon will produce as a streamie, read Kozeniewski. And to anyone who has long agreed with Friedrich Schlegel, the German philosopher who claimed that the novel’s fictive narrative has symbolic meaning and that the poet is to use a new mythology “forged from the deepest depths of the spirit” that will mythify the realistic narrative by using his imaginative faculty to unite the real with the ideal, read Kozeniewski. This writer has done that. He, somehow, has done that.

Book Title: Every Kingdom Divided
Author: Stephen Kozeniewski
ISBN: 978-0692597910
Publisher: Mirror Matter Press

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