The Girl with All the Gifts was M. R. Carey’s most recent novel and the first to cross my path, though he’d been writing comics for years beforehand and has a hearty backlist. The hype was pretty high when I read it, but after enjoying it, I kept my eye out for Carey’s works. Fellside, Carey’s new book, was released April 5th by Orbit books.
I wasn’t entirely sure what I was getting myself into with this one. The cover features The Girl with All the Gifts and the set up sounded fairly similar– woman stuck in an institution with surprising supernatural occurrences. I couldn’t tell if it would be too similar to TGWATG or if it would be connected somehow.
Fellside features a woman named Jess who has been sent to prison for the murder of a young boy in her apartment building. Jess was high at the time, was horribly burned in the resulting fire, and, most importantly, doesn’t remember anything that happened after shooting up. Now, in Fellside prison for a life sentence, the ghost of the young boy she killed is haunting her.
The take away from this book was by and large that Carey can write a solid story.
The book does what many stories about prison do: a dash of crime plot, mix in some character background, add in a touch of prison violence, sprinkle some drugs on top and voila!
The story plot and character constructions, though again solidly done, left something to be desired. In a lot of ways, it was very predictable, despite multiple attempts at twists. The characters were rarely fleshed out beyond the typical, particularly for the inmates, and their internal life outside of Jess doesn’t get too much consideration. Again, the construction itself is done solidly, it just lacked much in the way of pushing the limits.
The draw for this is the paranormal aspect. The ghost that haunts Jess in prison adds an element of fantasy and Carey draws on that for the book’s distinction. The paranormal aspect is twined together with Jess’ childhood fantasies and some fairly terrifying events. Carey uses these elements in a way that’s fairly well integrated with the plot and its creation and descriptions were satisfying. Jess’ supernatural history could have been expanded upon and people who knew about it could have questioned more, but overall it was pretty well done.
Fellside won’t make my best of list, but it’s an entertaining read and worth picking up if you are looking for something reliable for the time and money you’ll spend.
A thanks to Orbit books which sent me a copy of Fellside for free in exchange for an honest review.