Page Count 288
Publication date January 2020/ Publisher FlameTree Press
He’s the hospital’s newest, and most notorious, patient–a paranoid schizophrenic who sees humanity’s dark side.
Luckily he’s in good hands. Dr. Eli Alpert has a talent for healing tortured souls. And his protégé is working on a cure for schizophrenia, a drug that returns patients to their former selves. But unforeseen side effects are starting to emerge. Forcing prior traumas to the surface. Setting inner demons free.
Monsters have been unleashed inside the Sugar Hill mental asylum. They don’t have fangs or claws. They look just like you or me.
A little warning, Chapter One opens with homophobia and Chapter Two was the most torturous animal death I think I’ve ever had to read.
I usually have quite a strong resolve but the sudden and intensely descriptive demise of a pet like that was truly stomach curdling- I admit to scanning it as quickly as possible and giving myself a moment to recover!
Clearly this was going to be a VERY dark read.
I really enjoyed the varying perceptions of insanity held by both the doctors and some of the patients. ‘Who determines who’s sick and who’s well?’
We Are Monsters is thought provoking in its approach to extreme mental illness, the frequent forays into psychology were extremely interesting and kept the balance of power and intelligence shifting between characters. Of course the horrors of enormous needles, electroshock therapy and submersion tanks are still at hand to ratchet up the pulse.
We Are Monsters is divided into segments, and Part Three is where the heat gets high. A sudden departure from reality told in four different POVs gives insight into each characters psyche through dark and disturbing hallucinations.
Their fear is palpable and claustrophobic, much as a nightmare that’s impossible to wake up from.
I can’t tell you that this sudden swerve made any sense, or even that it flowed nicely, but I will say it was fun.
I would’ve liked a little more description of characters and surroundings, there were moments I struggled to imagine. We Are Monsters can get heavy on the dialogue/ monologue; not necessarily a negative but personally I prefer an equal ratio of speech, action and description.
I was also disappointed to find the horror trope I spoke about last year.
It’s 2020. I’m more than tired of male authors using genitalia to incite fear or horror. Fear of rape is relevant of course, but always with the detailed descriptions of cock?
But let’s not get side tracked, I’ve discussed this already in *The Horror Of Sex In Fiction*
Dr Alex Drexler was a tricky main character. 90% of the time I hated him, but now and then the smallest redeeming quality or moment of tenderness slipped in. I sympathised with Eli but simultaneously shouted at him to grow a backbone! As for Angela, ooh what a mess.
Crosby was a great antagonist, a psychopathic killer with a stereotypical history. His unwavering conviction in his delusion and the inability to reason with him made him a formidable threat. Unfortunately he just seems to drop out of the book part way through!
The final quarter of We Are Monsters is bizarre, it seems to completely unravel. I finished the book wondering what the hell had happened. There were questions unanswered, story lines unfinished, it was just a sudden whirlwind of crazy that felt like two concepts smashed together.
Ultimately the atmosphere was good, the fear and revulsion was near constant but as a novel it needs fine tuning.
*Many thanks to Flame Tree Press @ Netgalley for my copy