New and Terrible Horizons


Being in an informal community of writers — the ranks of the Amazon KindleScout winners are growing exponentially as more and more of the program’s novels are released — has led me down disparate paths.

Jennifer Skutelsky led me up into the Andes in her Grave of Hummingbirds. As such, I felt a certain kinship with Finn Lawson, an impulsive 18-year-old, and his mother, Sophie, whom Finn drags up into a remote town, Colibri, so that he can witness a festival he finds repulsive.

Not that I wish I were there.

By Monte Dutton
By Monte Dutton

In the past six months, I have read many of my colleagues’ works. Many of them have read Crazy of Natural Causes, my third novel but first through Kindle Publishing. My fourth, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, will be out … soon. I’m going through edits and will keep you abreast of the release date.

But I digress, as I am wont to do when a moment arrives where I can shamelessly hype my own work. More to come at the bottom. I need the bucks, mon.

Anyway, we help each other out. Several colleagues have included me in their “author showcases” and Q&A’s, and others have reviewed Crazy. Some, in fact, have done both. I have returned the favors as quickly as possible. I am returning a favor now. I’ve tried to be honest in my reviews, though I may grade my colleagues on a subliminal curve. Overall, my chief reaction has been that I’m paired with lots of fine writers, and it’s an honor to be one of them.

By “disparate paths,” I mean that I’ve read novels I might otherwise overlook, and it’s been a splendid experience.

I’m not a horror fan. Some might consider Grave of Hummingbirds a horror novel. Perhaps it’s like country music. For people who say they don’t like country, nothing is country. For people who do, everything is. I loved this novel. Therefore, in my mind, it’s not horror. Horror gives me nightmares. Grave didn’t. It left me a bit glum from time to time. Mainly, though, it made me think, and that’s what writing is supposed to do.

What Ms. Skutelsky has written is a haunting novel. In the thin air of Colibri, spirits drift about. They are harbingers of a dreadful secret, one that most of the villagers don’t know specifically but, rather, spiritually.

It begins with the discovery of what appears to be the body of an angel. Dr. Gregory Moreno, the most sensible person in Colibri, sees in the face of the dead, winged woman a resemblance to his late wife. This makes sensibility a bit harder.

What Sophie cannot know, when she and her son arrive in town, is that she, too, looks like the late Nita Moreno, and no good can come from that.

By the way, within the past year I have read a novel by Isabel Allende, and I found some similarity in style with Ms. Skutelsky’s tale of dreams and demons, beauty and blood.

While Grave has supernatural overtones, I don’t think its narrative strains credulity much. The story is splendidly told. It wasn’t undertaken lightly. This is a serious literary effort.


              You can find Grave of Hummingbirds here:

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Crazy of Natural Causes has only been out since late summer. It’ll only set you back $3.49.

(Joe Font cover design)
(Joe Font cover design)

My first novel, The Audacity of Dope (Kindle version $2.99), is about a songwriter who gets on a plane a free-thinking stoner and gets off it a free-thinking national hero. Complications ensue.

(Melanie Ryon cover design)
(Melanie Ryon cover design)

The Intangibles (Kindle edition $4.99) is set in the 1960s, with an integrated high school football team at the epicenter of the local civil-rights volcano.

Read my non-fiction blogs at

Follow me on Twitter @montedutton, @wasted pilgrim (slightly more irreverent), and @hmdutton (writing). I am on Facebook at Monte.Dutton and on Instagram at Tug50. Thanks for your patronage and support.


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