Violent Poetry: A Review of Karl Fischer’s Towers

The next time someone says to me, “Oh, bizarro is just meant to shock people,” I’m going to shove Towers into their hands and then push them out the door.


In a wasteland ravaged by giant monsters, Alti and Quatra are drafted into becoming sentient guard towers. Once their service ends they’re promised an eternity together as payment. The only problem? Life is never that fair or easy.

No, instead Alti finds that he’s been betrayed. Locked within another tower and slowly becoming a monster himself, Alti sets off on a journey driven by the one thing that can catapult any human into the hungry void: LOVE.

Few writers can write about violence in a way that is both revolting and beautiful. It takes the skill and know-how of a truly talented voice to do so, and Karl Fischer is one of those few. We’re along for the ride as Alti’s mind, body, and spirit undergo a blitzkrieg of torment that we can’t look away from. However, never once does it feel like Fischer ebbs into gratuity. These scenes are necessary and expertly crafted to show you how ugly one’s own journey and transformation can be—as far as character arcs go this is one of my favorites.

Along with the poetry of Towers, Fischer presents Alti’s love for Quatra in a very sincere manner. What do I mean by that? Well, a lot of times the protagonist’s quest for a loved one seems more like a drone on a mission; there’s no questioning of the possible outcome or if the desired partner even wants to be saved. There’s none of that in Towers. Fischer shows us Alti’s moments of doubt, fear, and the idea that maybe Quatra won’t be at the end waiting for him. This understanding and representation of emotions (everything from hate to infatuation) helped me feel closer to Alti; so when he hurt, I hurt.

How do you not want to buy a book from a dude who loves cupcakes and dogs?

My complaints are minimal. I felt the ending was hurried and less-thought out than the rest of the book. A solid 20 pages or so more I think would have rounded the narrative out a bit. Also, there’s a bit of confusing imagery that made it difficult to understand exactly what was happening—nothing that can’t be fixed in Fischer’s next book.

Overall, Towers is a beautifully written love story and Fischer’s voice is the equivalent of a heavy weight prizefighter. If you’re looking for bizarro with a strong literary backbone then this is definitely the book for you.



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