A Life Transparent

A Life Transparent : Book One of the Monochrome Trilogy by Todd Keisling


In A Life Transparent, first published in 2007, Todd Keisling welcomed readers to the Monochrome—a nightmarish parallel reality—and introduced Donovan Candle: a modern everyman experiencing an early mid-life crisis. Now, Bloodshot Books is proud to present a revised and expanded edition, featuring Keisling’s all-new afterword series, “Who is Donovan Candle?”

Donovan Candle is boring.

Consummate husband, supportive brother, hard-working employee—a paragon of the diminishing Middle Class. Like so many others, he has fallen into routine and compromised his dreams for the sake of a paycheck. After a bad day at the office leaves him low, all Donovan wants is to sleep off the disappointment and start over.

Donovan Candle is terrified.

His body is fading out of existence. He’s seeing strange visions of the world in monochrome and horrific creatures lurking in his periphery. No one else seems to notice, and as the odd afflictions intensify, Donovan fears he is losing his grip on reality.

Donovan Candle is disappearing.

Someone breaks into his home and abducts his wife. Before he can contact the authorities, a stranger’s ominous phone call urges him on a path to her rescue, but only if he follows the rules. The clock is ticking, and with every step Donovan slips further into a state of transparency. Will he be in time to save his wife—and himself—from the dangers of A Life Transparent?

The IndieMuse Review

Richard Martin’s Review

I have previously written a glowing 5-star review for Todd Keisling’s epic cult horror novel, Devil’s Creek, which was easily one of my favorite books of 2020. It was a no-brainer for me when I heard that he was re-releasing a revised edition of his debut novel, A Life Transparent and I was not disappointed when I finally got around to reading it.

Donovan Candle lives a very ordinary life. He is happily married, works a nine to five job and has settled into a comfortable routine. Sure, he’s stopped going on holidays or taking his wife out, and maybe he’s no closer to that elusive promotion at work than he was when he started, but that’s life.

Isn’t it?

When Donovan wakes up one morning and notices his skin starting to grow transparent. His wife stops talking to him, his co-workers don’t seem to acknowledge his presence and, even worse, he is beginning to see terrible, impossible creatures walking freely around, seemingly unnoticed. A phone call from a mysterious stranger seems to offer answers to his strange predicament, but those answers come at a cost, one which Donovan may be unable to pay.

A Life Transparent is a very different book from Devil’s Creek. While it certainly has elements of horror, it has more of an urban fantasy feel to it, but largely defies definition, as Keisling throws in some family drama, detective noir and sci-fi into the mix, resulting in a fun and unpredictable mash-up that keeps things interesting until the final page.

What really makes the book work though, is Donovan. A Life Transparent is ostensibly about a man who is wasting his life. He is stuck in a routine, neglecting the things that are truly important to him and putting aside his goals and dreams for a job and a life that is mired in mediocrity. Posing such a character as your lead runs the risk of having a bland, dull narrator who the reader is unwilling to follow into the story, but Donovan is at once three dimensional and complex, and painfully relatable. I think this really nails the core appeal of the book, for me at least. Everyone will see something of themselves in Donovan and he is a gripping lead for that reason alone.

A Life Transparent is the first of a trilogy and Keisling expertly walks the fine line between offering a satisfying ending to this particular book, but leaving enough open to offer a lot of exciting possibilities for a sequel. The world-building is inventive and unique and there is a lot of ground that could be covered with a second book. This story leaves its lead characters in a different place by the closing chapter and it’s refreshing to see the set-up in place hinting at a very different follow-up.

A Life Transparent is exciting, action-packed and unique, defying definition and expectation and its broad appeal and likeable characters mean that I can’t imagine anyone not having a great time with this book. Sign me up for the sequel!

Mort Stone’s Review

A Life Transparent by Todd Keisling in the first in the Monochrome Trilogy, and a re-release and polished version of the original 2007 publication.

The main character is Donovan Candle who is working a dead end job in telesales. He is too scared to start a family before he and his wife Donna have enough money saved up. So he throws himself into his job, giving it his all and having no energy to actually live his life. He is stuck in this monotonous rut of existence. This scenario made the character completely relatable to me. I’m not going to get into it, but I will say my career is less than satisfying.

Which brings us to the Monochrome, a parallel plane of existence where nobody can see you, where there is no color, no nourishment, and, most of all, no hope of escape. Donovan is starting to flicker, parts of his body disappearing for short spells. People start to ignore him as if they are forgetting he even existed.

On the flip side, you have Albert Sparrow, who found a loophole and escaped the Monochrome, which makes the man in charge, Mr. Dullington, very unhappy. Sparrow takes precautions, but Dullington needs someone to bring him back.

And what can be a better incentive than kidnapping the wife of a man who has one foot in the door already?

Can Donovan save his wife? Can Donovan save his own life? (If I meant for them to rhyme, I would have been as sharp as a knife…)

This book really impressed me. Keisling did a great job of taking readers on the journey with the characters. It reads fairly fast and he doesn’t waste time with trivial, unnecessary facts. And, even though it is the first in a trilogy, this book works as a standalone as well.

Very entertaining—I don’t think it is exclusive to horror readers. Those who like thrillers might also enjoy this if they are willing to let reality bend just a little.


Richard started reading horror books at a young age, starting with R L Stine’s ‘Goosebumps’ and ‘Point Horror’ series. He traumatised himself at the age of twelve when he read Stephen King’s ‘IT’, and never looked back. He is currently based in the UK, where he lives with his partner, and an inappropriate amount of books.


Mort Stone lives in untamed Africa, where he rides his lion to work every morning to slave away as a scientist who learned how to fake competency.

Reading is his passion…well, the one he can admit to, anyway. As an aggressive pacifist, he chooses to fight vicariously through stories which can bring him no physical harm.

While he is almost confidant that his IQ is in the top 50%, his wife regularly reminds him of all the stupid things he does. He will neither admit nor deny the accusations of sarcasm, but he can act like he cares. Most of the time.

As an avid reader of horror and thrillers, and somewhat of a movie buff in those genres, he still blames his insomnia on Global Warming. Because he can.

He would also like to apologize in advance for any swear words which might slip through…he will blame that on the insomnia.

Curation Results: A Life Transparent

B-Baal Not Reviewed
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