I absolutely loved this book. It was dark, twisted, gory in parts and psychologically messed up – what’s not to love?! Jon Bassoff is now on my list of authors to look out for, I gather that he’s previous work is equally awesome and has been adapted for the tellybox.
This book was published by an independend publishing company called DarkFuse, who I will also be keeping an eye out for as they specialise in this genre.
There are 3 main characters in this book; Dr Freeman who was raised in a household with a mentally ill mother, who was taken away when he was young and spent the rest of her days wasting away in an institution without any relief from her suffering. He grew up to become a neurologist, performing lobotomies on patients to relieve them of their symptoms.
In a fashion, this works but it benefits really only the families and those who’ve had to endure watching their loved ones suffer and possibly embarrass them with their behaviour. In the same way that as a child, he would have wanted his mother to behave normally for his benefit as much as his, he doesn’t seem to have grown past that – he rationalises that he’s doing it for the good of his patients, by ignoring all evidence to the contrary.
Durango is the son of an equally ill father, who now avidly believes that Durango is the Messiah and solidifies that fantasy by placing a crown of thorns on his head and dragging him to public events to preach about sin and try to make him perform miracles. It’s another case of a child being humiliated by their ill parent, and eventually Durango takes him to see the doctor…..
Scent is another child from a broken home, her father has left and her mother isn’t capable of looking after her. She prostitutes herself to keep food on the table but she isn’t just the regular, garden variety kind of angry towards her mother – she’s positively malevolent. She has no guilt or moral guidance, she manipulates and hurts people to get what she wants and that isn’t limited to her mother.
This story is incredibly sad, by the end of the book despite everything they’ve done up to this point to escape their parents and their illness, they essentially become them in one way or another. What I found wonderfully refreshing about this incredibly harsh and bleak outlook was that there was no judgment at all about any of the characters’ deeds, they just were.
In all of this, the only character that my heart positively bled for was Durango – he’s lost his mother, his father is parading him around as the Messiah and becomes increasingly agitated when he can’t bring his dinner back to life. He tries to be good and please his father, even though he knows it’s not possible – his decision to take him to see Dr Freeman genuinely came from a good place, wanting to save himself and his father.
I’m definitely not going to spoil the ending for this one because I like to think that you’re going to read this book yourself. Ask Santa nicely… I’m sure he likes dark psychological thrillers!