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 Afters by Christopher O’Connell

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

It’s the end of the world.

The Afters is about Charles Gilbert Billingsworth the VIII (Charlie). He is surviving – and enjoying – the zombie apocalypse, until he finds two lost children and –one of whom is hiding a powerful secret.

My Photo [The Afters].jpg

I liked it.

The Afters was easy to read, easy to follow, and the tone was witty and conversational – albeit a bit too conversational in places.

There were a few typing issues, such as the unintended fluctuation between past and present tense and some words at the start of chapters lacked spaces, but I’m sure those are things a quick edit can resolve.

When it comes to zombie apocalypse fiction, The Afters covers a lot of common ground – America is struck by a virus that has destroyed the population, quarantines are set up, camps are set up by groups both good and bad, some people are fortunately immune, and there are plenty of zombie attacks and scavenger hunts. However, O’Connell writes about all of these things well, so if you really enjoy apocalyptic and dystopian fiction, this would be a great book for you.

However, in an age where everyone seems to be writing apocalyptic fiction, and zombie TV shows and video games like The Walking Dead have massive success, I wanted to see something new too.

Around halfway through The Afters, O’Connell delivers this. Firstly, in Charlie’s discovery that one of the children in his care has a remarkable supernatural ability and secondly, that the zombies may not be dead, but mutating.

It was interesting to read The Afters alongside Cell by Stephen King. Cell is another book set in a zombie apocalypse, where a blast from mobile telephones renders all uses dead, zombified, or something in between. However, some of these zombies gradually become smarter – learning, developing, rebooting themselves, with sinister intentions. With that in mind, it’s nice to see authors take on a popular or, dare I say it, overdone idea and add new things to the genre I haven’t come across before, and this is what O’Connell does.

I was also impressed with how many genuinely tense and scary scenes there were, that place the reader in the centre of zombie attacks and violence. Very entertaining.

However, Charlie’s first-person narration began to irk me once he met Kalila; he describes her in a provocative way and stares at her bosom a great deal. As a female reader, it was uncomfortable to read through his, quite frankly, sleazy thoughts and comments about a woman and it was an aspect of Charlie’s character I did not enjoy.

All in all, The Afters is a well-written piece of zombie apocalypse fiction that does everything you’d expect it and then a little bit more.

Star Rating: 4/5 Stars

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

– Judith

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