BOOK CLUB RESOURCES:
We fully endorse you taking Benevolent to your book club, no matter how big or small. Feel free to contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org or use the resources on this site to your advantage. Sure, they are copyright (c) Devon Trevarrow Flaherty 2013 and all, but you have the author’s permission to copy and distribute the questions and information as you see fit, within some sort of reason, that is. Go ahead: make copies for your reading group!
*WE WOULD LOVE TO HEAR YOUR ANSWERS TO ANY OF THESE QUESTIONS. PLEASE FEEL FREE TO POST IN COMMENTS OR SEND AN EMAIL TO email@example.com.
1. Are the legendary characters (The Angel, The Queen, Jaden the Great, The Sage) real? In what sense are they or are they not? Are they allegorical for something? What might they represent?
2. How do you feel about Gaby’s and Mikhail’s relationship? Did it resolve in a way you enjoyed? Why or why not?
3. Can you relate to the town of Butter? Explain. Share your experiences.
4. Discuss the characters of Mercedes and John. What do they do for the story and how are they important to the other characters?
5. Did you enjoy learning about characters through flashback? Was it effective? What was your favorite flashback?
6. Discuss the climax in the hospital room. Break down how each character responded, including The Angel.
7. Discuss the ending at the bridge. Was this a fulfilling ending for you? Did it work well with the book?
8. Why was chapter 29 included in the book (The Timeses and Heralds Report on the Matter)?
9. Did you enjoy the author’s use of metaphor? Do you recall the segment where the letter with Mikhail’s message traveled through the mail system? And the roses decaying in Mikhail’s bedroom? How did those metaphors work and what was your favorite metaphor from the book?
10. Did you like the Midwest or Israeli scenes more? Why?
11. What was your favorite quote from the book?
12. What genre is this book? It is sometimes listed as literary fiction, sometimes general fiction or contemporary fiction, but also has strains of magic realism, young adult readership as well as adult, coming-of-age, and even fantasy. What is the best audience for it, and why?
13. Did you identify with the humanitarian themes in the book? Did Gaby tell you how to live, or did she just make you think?
14. What was the issue(s) that kept Gaby and Mikhail apart for so long? How was it eventually dealt with?
15. Map the narrative arc of the story (point of view, voice, etc.). Is it conventional? How and how not? And why did the author do it this way? Would you?
BENEVOLENT AROUND THE INTERNET:
On The Starving Artist (the author’s blog):
- Hero Tales (besides the analysis of hero types, Devon breaks down where the characters of Benevolent might fit)
Elsewhere on the internet:
- at Juniper Grove (“Featured Author: Devon Trevarrow Flaherty,” revealing things about the newly-published Benevolent and also The Date and the Cockroach, in process)
- at Butterfly-o-Meter Books (“Guest Post: Mikhail’s Mix Tape for Gaby + Excerpt: Benevolent by Devon Trevarrow Flaherty,” excerpt from the Violet Monkey Record Shop chapter)
- at Moonlight Gleam’s Bookshelf (“Book Spotlight: Benevolent,” with excerpt of Gaby and Mikhail hanging out)
- at Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews (“Benevolent: Featured Literary Fiction,” a short and sweet interview with Laurie about writing and my books, and plenty of promo)
- On JLB Creatives (“Meet the Author: Devon Flaherty” with an interview about writing, the writing life, and insight into, for instance, Devon’s favorite place in Benevolent)
THE STORYKEEPER TALES:
Benevolent is the first novel in an unconventional series called the Storykeeper Tales. It is unconventional, first, because you can read each book on its own. Second, you may never even know that they are a series. Third, you could read them in whatever order you want, and understand each of them. Fourth, they are not all the same genre. However, they are meant on a certain level to work together, and to be read in a particular order, which is the result of readers of Benevolent wanting more of the of Northywyth legends. Benevolent appeared in 2013, followed by The Night of One Hundred Thieves in 2015. There are three more in the series, which will be published after 2016.
The first book–Benevolent–was written, cliche-style, from what Devon knew: a youth in the suburbs of Detroit, travel to Israel, and a bursting amour for humanitarianism and academia. However, since Devon is also a great lover of magic realism, the Northwyth legends and the resulting characters made it into the last drafts of Benevolent. The Night of One Hundred Thieves is simply an expansion of one of the legends from Benevolent, written as a sort-of experimental fantasy novella (which technically, by the last edit, was a proper novel). The experimental part comes in at the lyrical style and the inclusion of forty main characters.
The last three are going to be basically as follows:
- A novel set in Russia, during the same time period as The Night of One Hundred Thieves (which is basically medieval times). It has one main character and is a head-story about Alexander’s discovery of who he might be and who he is. The theory is that he is the abandoned son of a distant, powerful queen and an angel. But he’s living the life of a mysterious peasant with no past. Can he find the old woman who can give him his story, and how far is he willing to go to get to her?
- A book of macabre fairy tales, set in the Wood of Branderby. One is already written: a piece called “Trecora” about a solitary woman who makes braided hair pieces for a living and is visited one ominous night by a man with his long-haired “wife” slung over his shoulder. Another of the stories will be based on the Magician and the Woodsboy from Benevolent.
- A science fiction book about the descendants of Gaby and Mikhail and the outcome of the severed seed.
*Spoiler alert, at least sort of. This is a map following the Northwyth legends embedded in the modern story, and how they interact with one another. Just a fun thing, especially if you are used to reading fantasy. It probably won’t really spoil much, and may just intrigue you.