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Cassie's Review- A Penny for Your Thoughts

Title: A Penny For Your Thoughts
Authors: Robert Ford & Matt Hayward
Edition: Paperback
Page Count: 292 pages
Rating: 4.5  / 5 ✨
Available June 1st!
 
“Sooner or later, payment comes due.”
 
A common misconception among non-horror readers is that horror is all bloodshed & gore, and no real “substance” - that if you’re looking to feel, you should look to another genre. As someone that’s been reading horror since I was a kid, I’ve found that this couldn’t be further from the truth!
My favorite horror stories are ones that invoke some sort of emotion in me, specifically something that lingers. Sometimes that something comes in the heavy form of despair or sadness, and other times it’s in the lighter, comedic moments between the scares. With A PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS, I’m happy to say that we have a bit of both, with a bit of good ol’ bloodshed and gore thrown in for good measure!
PENNY tells the story of our semi anti-hero, Joe. Flawed and realistic, Joe’s the kind of guy that’s made a few bad choices in his life, but is trying to be a better person. He lives with his Pop, who believes in him despite his flaws, and is struggling to move on with his life after an addiction to heroin caused some time spent in prison.
While hiking one Saturday afternoon, Joe stumbles upon a jar containing little scraps of paper, each with a written wish and a special penny taped to it. Without really understanding how the wishes work, Joe starts using them - not knowing the price attached, or the repercussions of the wishes themselves.
There have been plenty of movies and books using the good old “be careful what you wish for” trope, but none have done it quite like this. Robert Ford and Matt Hayward’s writing is engaging and compelling - this was my first book by either of the authors, and I was really impressed by their collaboration. It didn’t feel like two separate people writing a story; their writing blends so seamlessly that if I didn’t know that there were two individual people writing this, I wouldn’t have been able to guess!
PENNY’s full cast of characters is fleshed out and varied, with each person feeling just as real to me as Joe himself. Some of the side characters in particular were my favorite parts of this story - I loved Pop’s loving, genuine nature, and Angie’s cunning maliciousness. I would have LOVED more on the Crimson Sisters, as the short time spent involving them was some of the most interesting to me. The dialogue between characters felt natural and smooth, which is something that can become choppy in a collaborative work, so to see it done so well here was great!
I did have a small issue with one of the wishes, which ended up being a running joke throughout a majority of the book. I won’t go into specific detail here, as it crosses a bit into spoiler territory, but I will say that there was a particular joke that I found to be just a little bit more juvenile than the rest of the story seemed to deserve, and that part of it came off as having a bit of a body shaming feel. This may not strike everyone this way, and other people may not mind it at all, but I do like to share all of my thoughts in a review, rather than just the good ones.
Despite the above, I did still enjoy the book a lot, and flew through it so quickly that I stayed up reading way past when I should’ve gone to bed! I even would have enjoyed it being a  little longer, so I could enjoy more of Ford & Hayward’s writing, and Joe’s story. Watching the wishes play out was fun and I never knew what to expect chapter-to-chapter; this one is definitely fast-paced, and you won’t want to put it down once you start.
 
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