Book Review: Doctor Perry by Kirsten McKenzie

This is a book review for Rosie’s Book Review Team.

Doctor Perry assures elderly patients at the Rose Haven Retirement Home he can offer warmth, sympathy, and understanding. Doctor Perry is lying.

My Image [Dr Perry]

I greatly enjoyed Kirsten McKenzie’s gothic horror novel, Painted, which you can read my review for here.

The narration and writing style of Doctor Perry is clipped and meticulously detailed, creating a nice parallel for Doctor Perry’s own personality.

At first, I thought this book was like a modern-day Sweeney Todd – a concept I was completely on board with. Doctor Perry doesn’t follow this narrative trajectory however, but it is still suitably unsettling.

Doctor Perry is the best character by far; he’s mysterious, psychopathic and darkly interested in in all kinds of science.

I also liked the twin boys fostered by Doctor Perry’s wife because they’re disturbingly violent and almost ghostlike – like something from Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining.

Similarly to Painted, there were multiple moments where a character ‘failed to notice’ something. I mentioned this in my review of Painted too; repeatedly informing the reader what the protagonist hasn’t seen. Personally, I don’t think this a dynamic way to convey information and works better in horror films and television dramas then it does in a novel.

I thought the ending was quite abrupt – I would have loved Doctor Perry to be longer, to provide further chances to develop the characters and storyline.

I enjoyed reading Doctor Perry and it was a real shame when it ended! If you like thrillers, dark science-fiction, or McKenzie’s work in general, I’m sure you will enjoy Doctor Perry too.

Star Rating: 4/5 Stars

Doctor Perry is available to buy as a paperback or an e-book from Amazon UK or Amazon.com.

– Judith

 

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Book Review: The Haunting of Hill House

“What’s here? What really frightens people so?”

[…]

“I don’t know.”

I’ve wanted to read Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House for a while now. Well, maybe a year. Now I finally have, and I was not disappointed.

The Haunting of Hill House is the classic haunted house ghost story.

Dr John Montague is a doctor and investigator of the supernatural. He rents Hill House, an 80-year-old abandoned mansion from Luke Sanderson, heir to the house, and invites others to join him in an experiment to find scientific proof of the supernatural. Two women, Theodora and Eleanor, take up Dr Montague’s invitation. However, the longer the group stays at Hill House, the more disconcerted they begin to feel.

Initially, I wasn’t sure Hill House was going to make strong impression. Of course, there were lots of good descriptions and the narrative was engaging and mostly as expected. But, nothing jumped out at me as extraordinary. Stephen King called Hill House ‘As nearly perfect a haunted-house tale as I have ever read’. With high praise like that, I knew it must be good.

However, to begin with, I thought Hill House was rather tame. There was some eeriness, but nothing too terrifying.

Then, everything changed.

A third of the way in, suddenly the horror increased. Even relatively simplistic scares like banging doors or sudden movements were described with such tension and tangible fear from the characters that I found it genuinely thrilling and engaging.

The book shares some of Eleanor’s inner thoughts, revealing her gradual mental decline. Hill House begins to affect Eleanor more than others; she thinks darker thoughts and says cruller things. In short, she goes mad. Or, was she mad to begin with? We just don’t know.

The Haunting of Hill House didn’t end how I expected it to – an interesting change from what I had anticipated.

I was also ready for more to happen, but sadly, it didn’t. The novel is shorter than I realised, and Jackson has delivered an excellent story and exciting horror – all in under 300 pages. Perhaps I’ll have to re-read it.

– Judith

Book Review: Christine

Or: Herbie Goes Bananas… And Kills People.

Christine is horror novel by Stephen King. It is about a car – a 1958 Plymouth Fury to be exact – called Christine which is seemingly … possessed. Christine captivates the attention of teenager Arnie Cunningham, whilst parked and run-down on a drive, who ignores all his friend’s warnings and insists on buying her.

I barely knew anything about Christine before I read it – I remember it was made into a film, and I thought it was about car that ate people. I wasn’t far wrong.

Christine is gradually restored to perfect working condition. Whether that’s due to Arnie’s hard work, or something supernatural, is up to the reader’s discretion.  At the same time, Arnie begins to “restore” as his acne clears up and his confidence increases. However, he becomes angrier, bitter, and violently protective over Christine. She is his world.

Christine attacks her enemies, or anyone who gets between her and Arnie, in a grisly manner – explaining why I thought she ate people.

However, is never explained fully why Christine is the way she is. I’m not sure if I’d prefer Christine to be a genuinely possessed car – that sounds like a cheesy concept – or if it’s a car driven by the ghost of her previous, horrid owner. The result King leaves the reader with is, I think, a bit of both.

My copy of Christine spans more than 700 pages, although I thought it took a while for the horror to “get going”. Yet that’s not the end of the world; King isn’t just good at scares, he’s also brilliant at world-building and characterisation, and his writing is always a joy to read – whether scary or not.

Once the scares did start coming however, they were particularly gory and frightening. The ending made me read faster; it was quite tense, and I was eager to know how things turned out.

Christine is also witty as well as scary; King satirises the attachment some men can have to their cars: Arnie names her Christine, polishes her, fixes her, falls in love with her. The fact King’s novel is named after the car highlights the obsession some can have with cars and reflects the way in which characters fail to not personify Christine – whether as a woman or a monster – and see her as just a car.

As you can see, I’ve done the same thing.

– Judith