“All it took for evil to prevail was for good men to do nothing.”
You see, here's the thing. I get a bunch of emails every week from authors asking me...more“All it took for evil to prevail was for good men to do nothing.”
You see, here's the thing. I get a bunch of emails every week from authors asking me to review their books and, more often than not, those who contact me this way tend to be ones I've never heard of before. So I open up the goodreads pages for their books, check out the description and browse the reviews. And I would estimate that about 10% intrigue me enough to make me start reading beyond the basic description; just one in ten convince me to open the book and find out if it's any good. Of those, almost all of them are put aside after one or two chapters because the quality of writing is poor, the dialogue is stilted and it reads like the author got high on thesaurus.com. I'm telling you this because I want you to appreciate how odd it was for me to, not only finish this book, but get completely lost in it. I had finished this book within twenty-four hours of opening the pdf and I only took so long because that unfortunate cretin called sleep hijacked me halfway through.
Let's not dress this one up as anything it isn't: this is an adult read that sits comfortably somewhere in the horror genre. You can expect to be transported to a fascinating bizarroland that is as much about an average dysfunctional British family, as it is a creepy tale of what happens when the life you know begins to fall apart. Tinged with black humour and nightmare prophecies, it's hard to look away from this twisted yet strangely endearing little story. However, I think it's greatest achievement is the exploration of what enables humans to desensitize themselves to their surroundings and commit atrocities: The red mist thickened, becoming an impenetrable ink that clouded his vision. Is this a prelude to violence? He asked himself. Is this what the mind does; draws a curtain to shade the mind from the horrors it allows the body to commit?
The story begins with Dylan Keene. He's just your average guy, likes a pint of beer with his mates, they're hoping to get a band thing going if they can ever come up with a name they agree on, he just wants his wife and daughter to be happy - he's not asking for much. But his wife is emotionally unstable and unhappy with the long hours Dylan must work; his 13 year old daughter was recently caught with her hands in the pants of a boy in the school closet because she "just wanted him to like her". Dysfunctional, but in the usual way. However, one day the family wakes up to discover random people staring in at them through their windows. At first, it's just a couple of people, but eventually it grows to huge crowds. What's wrong with them? Why are they staring? And why is the Keene family unaffected?
Being trapped inside doesn't feel like the end of the world in the beginning. They have each other and Dylan's brother - Lennon. Surely the weirdness will get sorted soon... well, as you can imagine, it doesn't. Lennon is one of the many highlights of this book, his humour saves the story from experiencing any slow patches even when the big drama is absent. One thing I especially didn't expect was for this story to be so funny, which it was. In fact, I think it was this factor that made me sure from the start that this was a book I wanted to see through to the end. Little gems like these made me laugh:
"Is he staring at us?" Dylan asked. "I think he might be. Maybe he's had a stroke." "And forgotten to collapse?"
From the kitchen, Kirsty let out a startled scream that sliced straight down the centre of their hangovers like a chainsaw through ice cream... Mrs Loughery, the delectable housewife from next door was standing in their back garden. Stark-Bollock-Titty-Naked, as the day she was born, but with a good deal more feminine curves. "Why's there a naked woman in your back garden?" Lennon asked, peering closer.
This might not be the book for you if you have to really like your characters to enjoy a story. The Keene family are all a little twisted in their own ways and their actions pissed me off so many times... but I still cared about them and what would happen. It mattered to me whether they would get out of their predicament or die bloody deaths. There were a couple of things I didn't like, hence the four star rating instead of five. I'm good with gory details and this was a gritty book, which I liked most of the time but I still feel like there is such a thing as TOO MUCH INFORMATION. Like this: "their coital secretions bonding them together in places with a dry, abrupt stickiness." I don't mean to be prudish, but did we really need to know that? And the lowest point for me was when Kirsty came out with this: "Would you like to fix another hole?" Wow. I'm not sure if it was supposed to be funny or a realistic portrayal of a marriage that has gone on way too long... either way, it was just depressing.
But, as you can see, the negatives are small. The positives are plenty and if you don't mind reading something out of the ordinary, you could find yourself loving this. I'm definitely glad I took a chance on it.(less)