Let’s get the disclaimer out of the way first: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I honestly had no idea what to expect going into the reading The Wilton Bay Chronicles by Ian MacRae. It was offered to me due to my appreciation of Hell’s Super by Mark Cain, so I went in expecting something a bit more overtly comedic. This wasn’t the case.
Not to say that this book isn’t humorous, it’s just not entirely upfront about it.
This book takes a sideways glance at religion in the world today. It’s mostly honest, mostly fair, but ultimately shows how absolutely ridiculous the world surrounding our spiritual health really can be. And MacRae seems to leave no stone unturned in his novel about the town of Wilton Bay. We get Catholics, Wiccans, Muslims, and even a brief glimpse at some Hare Krishnas. Okay, well, obviously not everyone gets in there. There aren’t any Baha’is or Hindus or really much of real Eastern religious groups shown (although Doc Rock encapsulates a few of these ideas). But that’s probably the point.
You see, MacRae gets right down to the nitty gritty of what’s wrong with western religion of today, in that it’s a competition. Revolving the story around two competing radio stations, we get a good idea of how religion has become big business and that they operate very similar to any corporation that needs to please its stockholders.
Yet, with all this commentary, at its heart, The Wilton Bay Chronicles is more of a coming of age story for an entire town. Sure, by the end things aren’t really all that much better, but you get the idea that at least a few people learned something.
I wouldn’t say that this is a fast read. Like talk radio itself, this book seems to spend most of its time simmering, causing the reader to wonder what the point is, although the read itself may be enjoyable. And outside of the commentary, I’m not sure there is much of a point. It seems to be a funny slice of life piece, showcasing what the world of religion can really be like when it truly collides.
And that’s what’s really great about it. That simmering quality means that you can keep coming back to it, no matter how slowly you read, and still immediately get back into the right mindset of the folks of Wilton Bay, almost like the ongoing tales of Lake Woebegon.
If you’re looking for a light easy read that will make you think, this is definitely a worthwhile one for you.