Published by Orbit on April 5th 2016
Genres: Horror, Occult & Supernatural, Supernatural, Thrillers
Reviewed by: Kim
Fellside is a maximum security prison on the edge of the Yorkshire Moors. It's not the kind of place you'd want to end up. But it's where Jess Moulson could be spending the rest of her life.
It's a place where even the walls whisper.
And one voice belongs to a little boy with a message for Jess.
Some people may call FELLSIDE heart-breaking, but that is too gentle. The book rips out your heart, stabs it with a shank made from an old toothbrush, and finishes it off with a few good whacks with a fire-extinguisher for good measure. This book is incredibly violent, but also incredibly touching, with characters that will stick with you long after the last page.
Jess is not an easy character to like. She tried to murder her boyfriend and ended up killing the 10 year old boy who lived upstairs instead. Her face, half of which burned off, has been restored, but not very well, almost as if the plastic surgeons couldn't be bothered to do a good job on a child killer. She has a very shaky memory of what happened that night, but is certain that not only does she belong at Fellside, the maximum security prison she is sent to for the rest of life, but that she deserves to die for what she did.
My favourite character was Sal, a male doctor who runs the infirmary in the prison, where Jess spends a huge amount of time. He was the most human of all the characters to me; many of the characters were bigger than life, nasty, brutish and evil. While Sal wasn't perfect, he was able to see what he was doing wrong, as opposed to some other characters for whom the world was all black and white, and all theirs for the taking. He managed to bring a more realistic touch of fear and helplessness that the other characters couldn't. Yes, Jess was helpless at times, but she is a prisoner; not being able to do what you want is part of the deal. Sal, who could have physically walked away from what was happening in the prison, was trapped there by his guilt and the mounting threats against him. He was a fascinating character to read about.
There are so many moments in this novel that will leave you cringing, from the beatings, to the hunger strike, to the terrible treatment Jess receives from nearly everyone in her life. Still, there are beautiful moments as well; her growing, renewed friendship with the boy she murdered, the memories from her childhood, the fascinating social dynamics within the prison.
Like THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS, this is a difficult book to review without spoiling it, and it's well worth discovering for yourself too. It's not for the feint of heart; it deals seriously with drugs, drug dealing, violence, infidelity, death, murder... And among all that horror, the wonderful story of Jess and a little boy who refuses to rest, who needs her almost as much as she needs him.More Reviews:
- For another spooky decent into a mad woman's head, try We Have Always Lived In The Castle, by Shirley Jackson or Vurt, by Jeff Noon.
- Although different, for the same claustrophobic feeling of helplessness, I would give Monster Island by David Wellington a try.