Friday, November 11, 2016

Book Review: Fellside by M.R. Carey

Fellside by M.R. Carey

Hardcover, 496 pages

Published April 2016 by Orbit

I have been a fan of Mike Carey for many years, having written many of the best stories in Constantine one of my all time favorite Comic book series. Known for the comics Carey has been writing novels for a few years mostly in a Constantine-like series of novels. Those novels about A exorcist name Felix Castor were not bad but kinda suffered from being pretty close to the series he wrote for in comics and just didn't hook me enough that I never read past the second book.

Then last year Carey released "The Girl With All the Gifts." It was easily one of my favorite books of the year and a 5 star masterpiece. On this blog I said "a fresh take on a tired genre. It is becoming it's own subgenre of horror now. The interesting zombie novel. No one wants to read the 300th generation zerox of Romero or the Walking Dead...This novel is storytelling magic. A masterpiece. One I think anyone would love."

So when a year later Carey released a new novel I jumped on it as fast as I could. Fellside is a true follow-up, although a totally different story it feels thematically related. A woman who is a prisoner hosts the point of view again. This time our story is told mostly through the eyes of Jess Moulson. A recovering Herion addict who makes up in prison disfigured. Accused of the murder of the 10 year old neighbor who died when she set her apartment on fire. A reaction to her addict boyfriend breaking up with her. At least that is the narrative she is being fed, she doesn't remember it and everyone expects her to die in prison.

As she heals a strange thing happens. Her spirit returns when the ghost of Alex the neighbor who died in the fire visits her. Jess learns that she can travel between the dreams of her fellow inmates. That is when the culture of the prison twist into the story. Corruption, drug mules, violence between inmates. Maybe there is more to the case involved case her fire?

The concept of the novel is strong and I liked the first 200 or so pages alot. Much like the last MR Carey book provided a fresh take on zombies this was an attempt to do the same with the ghost story. I don't personally think it was as successful. The second half kinda fell apart for me. I felt like half the characters Jess, her lawyer, the ghost had many dimensions but many of the prison characters were stereotypes without depth. and perhaps the greatest weakness can in the form of twist towards the end that felt very weak to me. It just felt like it was a cheap trick that didn't make alot of sense story wise. Very forced.

For that reason I enjoyed reading this book but didn't feel satisfied when I closed it at the end and found the last 50 pages to be a bit of a slog. I will give the author major props for telling a interesting ghost story and maybe it was the high bar he set with his last book but I just didn't enjoy it. The Girl With All the gifts is a must read.

1 comment:

Hyacinth Marius said...

I like everything he writes. This book was imaginative, well written, and beautifully rendered. Carey is his own voice, and his writing has great compassion. Up there with Michael Marshall Smith and Matt Ruff in warmth and vision.

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