Book Review: As Above~So Below by Jeffrey M Borowski, Pagan 1 Black Cat
As Above~So Below by Jeffrey M Borowski is a novel about a pagan couple, Jeffrey and his wife, Brenda, who move to a new home in a town they moved away from in the past. In the home, Jeffery encounters a ghost which he speaks with about improving himself and spreading that knowledge of improvement to others.
I unfortunately did not enjoy this novel but others might. I feel it needs a lot of work, and the author is marketing incorrectly. The book is being marketed as fiction, but I don’t feel this book is fiction. It is more like nonfiction in the categories of autobiography and self-help. The main characters of the novel are named after the author and his wife. The book details their everyday life and the personal thoughts and beliefs of the author. Not in itself a bad thing, but not what I’m looking for in a fiction book. The main character breaks character a lot in the book, for instance, on page 14 it says, “As I’m sure that you noticed in chapter one,” In most fiction, a character doesn’t know they are part of a book and refer to past chapters. Nonfiction would do that.
When I first received the novel, I read the front, the back, the description of the book on Amazon, and still couldn’t get a clear idea as to what this book was about. Under normal circumstances, if I can’t tell what a book is about, I skip it, but this book was sent to me for review. A friend of mine saw the title and said it was a pagan saying. I was unaware of this and so may many other readers. The front cover or back cover may need more info so non-pagan readers know what they are getting and may be more willing to buy.
I opened the book to start reading (I was given a physical book for review) and noticed right away that it was formatted incorrectly for fiction. The paragraphs are not indented, and character dialog is not separated and indented. This makes it confusing to tell when a new paragraph starts and to tell which character is speaking. It is common in nonfiction for paragraphs not to be indented and spaces used instead, but not in fiction. The novel also uses this symbol ~ and this symbol > a lot throughout for no real reason. There are other instances of improper punctuation such as * being used in place of a degree symbol.
Once I started reading, I noticed many passages are wordy and hard to follow and need to be edited. For example, on page 3, “When I was so far from it, who may have been experiencing a memorable moment by it, perhaps because of, or involving it?” This sentence is hard to figure out. Weak words such as very, just, was, were, and –ly words are also overused. What bothers me most is the author is aware the novel needs work and writes an apology at the beginning of the book instead of editing it. In the preface it says, “Please allow the story to unfold, and bear with the style of the younger soul’s deliverance in the early chapters…
It was designed to be completed as the knowledge attained.” It goes on about the odd punctuation and spelling of words. To me, it is an excuse not to edit and put the book out before it was ready.
There is no real plot in this book. The couple moves to a new house. A ghost appears to Jeffrey, and they have conversations about tolerance and improving the world. The rest of the book is the everyday lives of the couple. The main character complains about Christians a lot and preaches how they should be more open minded, while pedaling pagan beliefs. After all those messages of tolerance, the main character goes on to bash rich people for being rich, to bash boxers for boxing, and to bash people for sticking to the beliefs they grew up with. Rich people aren’t bad because they like silk sheets. I find this very ironic because at the same time he is preaching tolerance of pagans. Maybe the point of the book was that the main character grew from this closed-minded way of thinking thanks to the ghost, but that’s not what I got.
The last thing I didn’t like about this novel, the Mary Sue aspect. A Mary Sue in books is a fictional character with overly idealized and hackneyed mannerisms, lacking noteworthy flaws, and primarily functioning as a wish-fulfillment fantasy for the author. The main character idealizing himself as being better than everyone else and being enlightened. Then the parts where the main character is showing off how much money his books are bringing in bragging about the amount of each check. Wishful thinking maybe.
I wanted to end this review on a positive note, so I saved what I liked for last. Two things, the first is there are some really well written passages of description. You can check the book out for those. The second, a message of tolerance of those different from us is always good. I wish the message was presented better in a less preachy and obvious way and then contradicted in later passages. If this novel was rewritten as an actual piece of fiction, maybe it would work, but the way it is written now, I can’t recommend it.