Ursa Major by John R. Little

“What a story!”

That’s exactly what I said when I put this one down. I’d never read Little’s work before, but after the nail biting insanity that is Ursa Major, I just found myself completely at a loss for words. This is an intense and brutal ride. Little is obviously a master of his craft.

A peaceful camping trip turns ugly as a step-father and daughter come face-to-face with a blood thirsty, mindless force. What happens when you have to make decisions that have no pleasant options?

There’s little in the way of an explanation in that synopsis. I know, I keep talking about “synopsis this” and “synopsis that”, but I find that with the right bit of information, you can make a book sound as intriguing as it’s supposed to sound. Ursa Major deserves something on a much more grand scale. Something like – “This book will make you weak in the knees before throwing you to the ground in utter despair, begging for the writer to stop before your heart explodes.” Yeah, something like that. Ursa Major is really exactly that. It’s a whirlwind trip into the mind of an author who is not afraid to make his readers severely uncomfortable with the situations he is likely to put his characters into.

Little’s characters are 100% rock solid, giving the reader more to latch onto, but also making it that much harder to watch as they face excruciatingly terrifying trials and tribulations. We see what’s ahead of them, and know full well that this will not end nicely. Hell, it says so right in the synopsis – “…no pleasant options…” The author doesn’t even stop with that, instead pickingup the pace, making the unthinkable happen, and then bringing the world crashing down all over again. His power to deceive the reader into thinking on a different path is brilliant. For one, I thought that the main character was a believable, likeable man, only doing what he thought was right. It was painful to see what Little put him through. After all, he could be any one of us. And after this novella, I won’t be camping up North any time soon. That’s for sure.

The story is short. It’s 64 pages. Short. But it’s packed with so much action and so much stress, it’s damned near impossible to come away from this without losing one’s breath. There really isn’t a slow point during the telling of the tale, at all. Even the back story¬† that is interspersed throughout is rapid fire. From my description, one might surmise that the wasy Little writes is like a machine gun on full auto, but it’s not. If you haven’t read Little’s work before, let me tell you something here: You’re aout to find out what it is to see writing that is so damned close to perfect, that’s it’s almost unbelievable. He makes this look easy. Everything fits perfectly where it should, and stands as if it was waiting for its time to shine. The prose here is beautiful. I’m now a John Little fan, through and through.

Ursa Major was released by Bad Moon Books in June of 2011. You can grab a copy at their website, or take a gander at other online retailers. You can check out Little’s website here.

I’ve got a copy that I’m willing to hand over to the right person, as I think this is a book that needs to be read by anyone and everyone. I’ll pick one of y’all from comments here, and on our facebook page at random.