The Ballad of Johnny Arcane: A Novel
Based on a song of the same name written in 1973, The Ballad of Johnny Arcane: A Novel by Jim Nail tells the epic tale of a young man and his destiny. Johnny Arcane is a young man with a curiosity that spans farther than the four walls he shares with his mother. When a messenger arrives with a letter for Johnny’s mother from his father—a man he never knew—he learns that not only has his father passed, but that it is in his blood to become a sojourner. Life as a sojourner is not one to be envied and only a special few are chosen. As Johnny embarks from his home to to become a sojourner like his father, he encounters people and places that amaze, scare, and test his physical and mental strength. Along the way he meets Lucy, who works at a bath house. During their short time together they fall in love, and when he must leave, he vows to return to her. Years pass, and pride and duty keep him away. It is also during this time that he learns more about borders and the “Other Time” he heard about as a child. When he receives a message from her that she is in grave danger, he sets off to save her. Crossing borders and becoming a legend along the way, Johnny Arcane has much to learn and live up to with little time to waste.
The Ballad of Johnny Arcane earns a 4-star rating for being an interesting read. Nail has created a well-written novel based on a song that seamlessly falls into several genres. His attention to detail also brings each leg of Johnny Arcane’s journey to life, which will help keep readers’ attention, due to the length of the book. The characters are witty and entertaining. However, while each character’s presence in the story is understood, a little more depth and description would have added to the overall story. That said, this is a well-paced book that is more than you would think.