Jess Moulson has been severely disfigured as a result of a fire and she is also suffering from amnesia. She has b**spoiler alert** Actual rating : 3.5
Jess Moulson has been severely disfigured as a result of a fire and she is also suffering from amnesia. She has been sentenced for the manslaughter of a child and finds herself at Fellside a maximum security prison in the middle of nowhere. During her incarceration Jess has visits which she believes are from the child she killed, and he tells her that he doesn't remember much about who he was or how he came to be at Fellside. All he can recall is that a lady hurt him very badly. Jess, feeling guilty and wanting forgiveness, promises to help him try to remember who the lady was and what happened to him.
Running parallel to the main storyline are several sub plots, one of which is of the inmates and the frightening often brutal world of manipulative and coercive relationships between the prisoners themselves and staff, and of the hierarchical system in which they find themselves.
When I received my proof copy of Fellside by M.R. Carey, I couldn't contain my excitement and delved right into the book the moment it was unwrapped.
The pace is sharp, intelligent, fast and exceedingly well written. I was hooked immediately and tore through the first 400 pages in next to no time, however a niggle or two had started to creep into my consciousness and the last third of the story just became a stretch too far. I skimmed the last third of the book leading to the final court appeal drama which included a couple of twists (both of which I saw coming), and in my opinion an unforgivable plot hole involving a mobile phone. Fellside is an Interesting premise but it didn't fully convince me with the mounting ethereal dream sequences and real world implausibilities. So when the otherworldly happenings increased in a 'way too weird' way and because of the plot hole reveal, Fellside lost all credibility for me and I was unable to suspend my belief any further.
The setting too felt off. Fellside is a fictional private prison situated on the edge of the Yorkshire moors but the writing style, depictions of the prison environment and general atmosphere had an American feel which didn't feel authentic to me.
So after a great start and right through to the last third of the book I'd definitely have given a 4 star rating, but finally settled on 3.5. A little disappointed, I was, but maybe expectations were high after the success of The Girl With All The Gifts ... or maybe if I had been aware of Carey's background in writing graphic novels I may have been more likely to have 'got it' and known that a pretty high level of 'belief suspension' would be needed to fully appreciate it.
Had I known too that Carey had spoken to former inmates of private prison institutions in the UK, I would also have found some scenarios a little more believable. However these assumptions are all with the benefit of hindsight, and even though it makes me feel bad about my views, I can only say what I actually thought whilst reading. You can read an interesting review with M.R. Carey here at lizlovesbooks blog : http://lizlovesbooks.com/lizlovesbook...
It's hard to have missed all the, by all accounts justified, 'hype' over Carey's debut novel, The Girl With All The Gifts, and despite my view of Fellside I am still looking forward to reading it.
Disclaimer: A complimentary proof copy of Fellside by M.R. Carey was provided by the publisher in exchange for my unbiased review.
We are introduced to our protagonist Barclay Lourdes as he leaps onto a moving train transporting UnionRead as part of the TLC Book Tour Aug/Sept 2015
We are introduced to our protagonist Barclay Lourdes as he leaps onto a moving train transporting Union soldiers to the Confederate's prison camp, Camp Sumpter. He assumes the identity of a dead soldier and partners up with fellow prisoner Charlie. Together they attempt to find their place within the camp, quickly adapting to their environment in order to survive in their brutal surroundings where nobody or anything is as it seems.
There's not a lot more to add as the synopsis says enough without giving too much of the plot away so I'll leave it at that.
This is an extremely well written horror novel set in arguably one of the bloodiest times in American history. The true horror is that Camp Sumpter (Andersonville) was indeed a 'hell on earth' and that there can be no overplay of the horror and brutality these men suffered daily in their nightmarish struggle to survive death, madness, disease and starvation. My initial concerns were that Andersonville was going to evolve into a zombie style farce which in my opinion would belittle the credibility of the plot, but to my relief this didn't happen. Instead it took on a supernatural twist involving an occult detective which enhanced the dark menacing atmosphere of the camp and certainly didn't take anything away from the horror of the real Andersonville.
Erdelac's blending of factual and fictional characters together with a supernatural element is well measured without it becoming implausible or laughable.
The intensity builds at a steady pace increasing the atmospheric tension and creating a sense of evil foreboding. I felt concern and fearful for the camps inhabitants. Although I thought the pacing was a little slow at times Andersonville was a thoroughly compelling and engaging read. It is a unique piece of alternative history and certainly as good as the best from the likes of Stephen King and Joe Hill. I highly recommend Edward M Erdelac's novel to not only fans of the horror genre, but to anyone interested in the American Civil War with something a little different to their usual read.
Disclaimer: A complimentary copy of Andersonville was provided by TLC Book Tours via Netgalley in exchange for an honest unbiased review. ...more