Over The Monster

Fiction - Sports
278 Pages
Reviewed on 05/02/2015
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Douglas Folsom is a filmmaker and ordained pastor who spent years writing sermons before turning his attention to screenplays and novels. He published his first novel, Return of the Santa Fe Super Chief, in 2013.

An avid baseball fan, Folsom grew up in an extended family divided by their loyalties to the Yankees and Red Sox.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

Over the Monster is an inspirational baseball novel written by Douglas Folsom. Harding Ambler's nine-year-old world revolved around his author dad, artist mom, big brother, Charles, and baseball. He was already a promising player in the local Little League in Woodstock, Vermont, but unlike most of his family and friends, Harding was a Yankees fan and proudly wore his number two uniform when he played. His birthday was a big event: his mom had made a chocolate cake and the family was going to A&W for dinner, but they never made it back home again -- only Harding survived. His grandparents, Allen and Hattie Ambler, took him home to their house on Cape Cod and were warm, loving and supporting, but it took years for Harding to learn to cope with his grief and his confusion over his having survived. Despite it all, there was still baseball in his life, however, once he had recovered enough to accept it, and his grandfather, known locally as Ty Ambler, was a consummate coach.

Douglas Folsom's inspirational sports novel, Over the Monster, starts with a tragedy, but the reader quickly gets involved in the relationship between Ty Ambler and his grandson. Folsom's Cape Cod setting is marvelous, and I started seriously considering a vacation trip after reading about their trip over the coast on a friend's small plane. Over the Monster is a heartwarming coming of age story that seems to have everything finally going Harding's way until he accepts a ride from his old friend, James, and ends up ensnared in the wheels of justice. It's a drastic situation for an author to put his character into, but somehow it works marvelously, perhaps because these kinds of things do happen in real life, and the reader can identify with it so well. I loved the baseball theme of Over the Monster, especially that part of the book concerning Harding's vision and creation of the prison team. This is one of those books that you get wrapped up in and then feel just a bit disoriented and sad when it's finally over. It's most highly recommended.

Lisa McCombs

Harding Ambler had it made. Although his parents were gone, his grandparents loved him unconditionally and supported him in all his endeavors. Mary Beth, Harding’s girlfriend, represented all things good in a potential mate. And then, suddenly, it all changed with an unfortunate twist of fate. Indicted as an accessory to second degree murder in a freak accident, Harding is sentenced to twelve years in prison. His dream of pursuing a career as a professional baseball player wasn’t the only thing that Harding lost. Mary Beth’s mother decided that her daughter’s reputation was too important to sacrifice to a prison convict. Harding fought back, though, by organizing a prison team and eventually gaining national recognition by playing against some of the country’s most successful teams. With the help of a mysterious stranger, Harding endured prison life and maintained his innocence while working toward the goals of his childhood, right up to the very end.

I thoroughly enjoyed Douglas Folsom’s Over the Monster. An avid Boston Red Sox fan, I related to the author’s own passion for the sport and the major league teams mentioned in this story. Many sports related novels tend to be top heavy with unnecessary trivia or unrelated detail, but I feel that Folsom utilized a successful amount of both in this tale. The inclusion of the relationship between Mary Beth and Harding added just the right amount of romance; and Bama, the “mysterious stranger”, settled well with my love for suspense. I believe Over the Monster is essentially a story of hope for readers with a need for the happy ending.

K.C. Finn

Over the Monster is a fiction novel by Douglas Folsom which focuses on the sport of baseball. Its central character is up and coming baseball star Harding Amber, who is spotted from a young age and prophesied to do great things in the sport in the future. On the very cusp of his rise to glory, however, Harding becomes the main suspect in a murder and is wrongfully sentenced to fifteen years in a prison known as the Monster. The only monster Harding ever wanted to conquer was the Green Monster Wall of Fenway Park, but now he’s struggling to overcome the hardships of prison life as an innocent man. His one constant is baseball, and he spots his chance to put a team together behind bars to try to change his life for the better again.

Author Douglas Folsom clearly knows a great deal about the sport of baseball, and I enjoyed the way that Harding’s somewhat tragic upbringing was intertwined with the history of America’s national pastime and became such a powerful and intrinsic force in his life. This makes Over the Monster a convincing read, despite its allusions to the interesting, fantastical folklore that surrounds the sport itself. Harding is portrayed as a believable character to whom readers can relate. I found the book to be a modern and intriguing combination of different genres, which made for a very engaging plot. Folsom’s biographical style of narrative also added weight and realism to his characters, which made me root for Harding from his confusing and tragic beginnings to the novel’s satisfying end.