First up, just to say that I got this book for free after winning a competition on Tor’s facebook page. This won’t influence my review other than that I’d probably not have picked this particular book up on a whim, nor read it as quickly! It’s actually not due for release until May 2013, and it’s always nice to get something before everyone else.
The book’s set in the late 1950’s, predominantly in a psychiatric hospital in the middle of nowhere where experiments are taking place with new techniques to alleviate illness. Nothing particularly gory, but old-fashioned by our viewpoint today. It’s written in the first person from the point of view of a new staff member, Dr James Richardson, as he tried to unravel the mysteries surrounding the patients while getting on with his job (and getting off with one of the nursing staff).
Imagine something along the lines of Shutter Island for the feel of things. Not quite “Gothic”, but just that dark, historic feel.
The medical talk all sounds pretty convincing, and indeed in the acknowledgements quite a few professionals are credited. It’s surprising to realise that some of the techniques mentioned were still pretty commonplace towards the end of the last century – or at least well past the halfway mark.
As time progresses in his new job, “things” start to happen. Some explainable, others less so. The story gently strays from medical thriller into horror as the pages turn.
If I’m honest, I found the ending a little predictable but the story on the way there was always enjoyable with a couple of particularly spooky sequences that had me looking over my shoulder as I read on my own at 2am! The fact that I managed to get through the whole thing in a couple of days is a definite indication that I was engrossed.
Well written, well-paced and with good characters. I loved the language and the viewpoint of the protagonist, which I thought sat very well with the era in which the story was set.
As I said, not something I would have picked up myself but I’m very glad I ended up with it in my hands. If you like spooky horror rather than gross-out slash-fests, this could well be something you’d like.
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