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M. R. Carey – Fellside | Review

Title: Fellside

Author: M. R. Carey

Category: Fiction

Page Count: 504

Rating: 4/5

I’ve had this book lying around for quite a while now because I really enjoyed Carey’s The Girl with All the Gifts. Part of that might be down to the fact that he was one of the first authors that I interviewed for my book blog, SocialBookshelves.com. He approached me and asked for an interview, I went ahead and gave him one, and it turned out he was working on the script for the movie, which has since been released.

Fellside is very different, although there are enough similarities in the style that it’s also immediately clear that they were written by the same person. Here, we follow an ex-junkie who wakes up in a hospital with burns all over her face and no idea of how she got there. Slowly but surely, we learn that she was involved in a fire that led to the death of a little boy, and the story pretty much builds out from there.

Fellside itself is a prison where Jess, the main character, is detained after being arrested for the fire. It’s not the nicest of places, but I think that Carey did a pretty good job of bringing the claustrophobic feeling of a prison to life. I was also impressed by how realistic all of the characters felt, from corrupt wardens to the queen bee of the prison who was running all of the contraband.

There was a particularly memorable scene in which the prisoners have a kangaroo court because one of them rifled through a box of trinkets that was implicitly understood to belong to one of the other prisoners. They put the stuff on a table and made her try to grab it while swinging a hammer at her hands until eventually they’d broken all of her fingers. Pretty grim stuff, and I loved it.

With that said, the book was a little on the long side and it struggled to hold my attention for the whole thing, but that’s because bits of it felt more like a generic thriller than anything else. Even with the fleshed out characters, there’s also a fair amount of filler as well as a bunch of stuff that I’m just eh about. And some of it was super important to the plot.

Specifically, I didn’t like the gimmick of the ghost kid, even though without the ghost kid it would be a different novel. I think it would have been better without it, especially because that would have forced it to take on a sort of gritty crime vibe as opposed to having a ton of supernatural elements. It’s kind of how I felt about Stephen King’s Bill Hodges books, which started well but quickly took a dive. I just don’t think that crime and supernatural work well together, because crime thrives on realism and supernatural takes realism away.

But other than that, it was pretty good. I’ll read more Carey.

Learn more about Fellside.

 

 
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