Book: Others

A sort of after-Halloween RIP book, I just finished James Herbert’s Others. I’ve liked his books in the past, particularly The Magic Cottage and Haunted. A little creepy, relatively well-written, not-too-gory light horror. The jacket on Others wants to call him “a literary Stephen King” but I wouldn’t go that far. Literary? Not really. Wordy? Yes. Decent plots and fairly-well-rounded characters? Yes.

Anyway, enough of my nitpicking. The book was pretty good. Instead of straight-up supernatural horror, this was sort of a noir detective story, with some supernatural (and hyper-natural) elements. Nick Dismas — private investigator, hunchback — goes about his mostly-lonely life dealing with his deformities as best he can. Sometimes it gets to be too much for him (cue: “Why God? Why?!?”) but he does pretty well. Until one day… when an overwrought client brings The Big Mystery unto him. Suddenly he’s Mr. Psychic and seeing wings and creatures and coded messages everywhere. What does it all MEAN?!

Ostensibly a search for a missing baby, it turns into a deeper mystery about Perfect Rest (is that a creepy name or what?), a nursing home at the end of a secluded lane. What’s behind those locked doors? Why does Constance, the beautiful-yet-crippled (spinal bifida) care supervisor, act so strange when her boss is mentioned? And could they ever have a future together?

I think this book was overly long, especially certain scenes of tense escape. It felt padded. However, I loved the Nick-Constance mini-romance, and the secret of Perfect Rest was pretty awful and really nastily satisfying. Those of you who are easily turned off by over-the-top freakishness should probably not read this. However, if you’ve ever been fascinated by, say, The Human Centipede…. you’d do fine with this book. (and no, that wasn’t a spoiler!)

It was entertaining and moved along, and I liked reading a mystery. I’ve been reading parts of The Art of Happiness with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, but frankly (call me jaded) it’s a bit boring. So… back to the good stuff! I’m currently working on Henry and June by Anais Nin. It is quite excellent; I’ve never read Nin (except for a few passages here and there) and she’s amazing. The book is fascinating. More about that soon.

 

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