[Review] Gary A. Braunbeck’s Mr. Hands

Publisher: Leisure Books | Published: July 1st 2007 | Pages: 354

This book is different than any I’ve ever read. Mr. Hands is a tragically magical story of mercy and revenge. The premise alone is enough to peak anyone’s interest. But it’s the characters that made me want to continue reading. I was invested in the characters and what Gary A. Braunbeck put them through. He puts his darlings through the wringer, but in the end, it pays off. Mr. Hands is set in Cedar Hill, Ohio and intertwines three, hauntingly different people with moral ambiguity. I’m an emotional person, and this book made me cry a couple of times.

The first character we get to meet is Ronnie, a mentally stunted boy, with an uncanny gift or curse. You’ll have to read the book and decide for yourself. Ronnie was abused by his father, but he grew up and began using his unique gift to help children. Not only can he detect the children’s innocence and love, he can also see their painful future. Ronnie is compelled to the children from their ghastly fate and kill them out of mercy. Their souls stay with Ronnie, letting him know that he is doing the right thing because they are in a better place. Ronnie is eventually dubbed a child serial killer. But he must continue his mission.

We are then introduced to Lucy, a single mom, and her daughter Sarah. Lucy starts spiraling when her daughter is abducted by a child predator. Sarah leaves behind her beloved doll Mr. Hands, a hideous wooden doll with long arms and monstrous claw hands with no legs. Lucy clings to Mr. Hands for comfort. Lucy and Mr. Hands meet Ronnie and that is when Braunbeck took things to the next level.

Reading Mr. Hands is very much like reading Jack Ketchum’s The Girl Next Door. The moral ambiguity is unsettling. The writing is phenomenal. I would love to see Mr. Hands at the box office or as an episode of Creepshow. The characterization is great. I can’t get enough of the characters. The pacing was good. The author with the character building and the world building. The characters have so much depth. The emotions are raw and real throughout this book. You’re going to need a box of tissues to get through this one.

You can find a copy here.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

It was an odd doll, carved out of wood, with stubby legs but long arms and huge hands. So little Sarah named it Mr. Hands. She loved that doll. . . until the day she was murdered. Now her mother, Lucy, has discovered something amazing about her daughter’s doll – it allows her to control another Mr. Hands. But this one is no doll. He’s a living, terrifying being with horrendous power.

Mr. Hands’s deadly power is at Lucy’s command. He will do whatever she tells him – even kill. To Lucy this is a rare opportunity, a chance to see that justice is done. Her justice. She decides who will live and who will suffer a horrible death, and Mr. Hands carries out the sentence without mercy. But once Mr. Hands is unleashed, will anyone be able to stop him?

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