Book review: The Beresford by Will Carver

Leave your comfort zone. Will Carver has a dark imagination in which creepy thrills and body counts are dialled to the max. The Beresford is a standalone thriller published in 2021. Bizarre, gripping and grotesque but drawn in smooth prose that will keep both the pages and your stomach turning.

The Beresford was old. It was grand. It evolved with the people who inhabited its rooms and apartments. It was dark and elephantine and it breathed with its people. Paint peeled and there were cracks in places. It was bricks and mortar and plaster and wood. And it was alive.

The ageless Mrs May runs a boarding house in a grand old building. She rarely leaves the premises. The rooms are large and the rent cheap and there are a steady stream of inhabitants. Mrs May passes her days drinking cold black coffee and wine, tending her garden and doing her prayers.

What is that one thing you would give up your soul for?

Tenants come with dreams of a new life, then go, sometimes at an alarming rate, and usually in pieces. Sixty seconds after one dies, a new tenant arrives, and so the cycle continues, a bit like Groundhog Day with gore.

The Beresford was a halfway house for the disenchanted and disenfranchised, whose focus was to become. To be. To discover and make their impact. The inhabitants were not necessarily the outsiders, but were certainly the ones found on the periphery. The wallflowers at society’s ball. They were outside. They floated on the periphery.

Dark and twisted with black humour and skilled plotting drawn in short snappy chapters. The story is intermingled with Carver’s existential ruminations about life, death, humanity, religion, and more that send the reader off on introspective reflections on 21st century life.

We all go a little mad sometimes.

As with Carver’s other novels I have reviewed on this blog – Good Samaritans, Nothing Important Happened Here Today and Hinton Hollow Death Trip, The Beresford will enthralled and disgust you, it will also make you think.

Book Review: The Hideout by Camilla Grebe

The Hideout by Swedish noir and crime fiction writer Camilla Grebe is an intense, twisted and gripping story about crime, religion, parenting and death.

Manfred Olson young daughter is in a coma after a fall. When he is called in to investigate the death of a young man whose body washes up on a beach, his attention is divided between his job and wanting to be at his daughters bedside. When a second body is found wrapped in sheets and chains, his search intensifies.

It’s only afterwards that all the trivialities of a life grow, develop teeth and chase you through the night.

Eighteen year old Samual has to leave town in a hurry after getting caught up with a brutal drug ring when a deal goes wrong. He runs to a sleepy coastal town and finds a job working for Rachel as a live in care assistant to her disabled son Jonas. As Samual’s attraction for Rachel grows, his safety becomes more precarious.

It took me exactly ten days to fuck up my life.

This Scandanavian thriller is slow moving and atmospheric. The two separate plot lines of Manfred and Samual gradually converge with lots of red herrings to keep the reader on their toes and make you squirm.

Book Review: Dark Light By Jodi Taylor

This is one weird book – I mean that in a good way. Elizabeth Cage is a mostly ordinary widowed housewife who likes a quiet life. Her primary problem is that she can see colours, which means she can read others emotions by the colour aura that swirls around them. We discover through her backstory that her special power is of interest to a man who had her locked up in an asylum so he could study and exploit her, until another inmate helped her escape.

Dark Light opens with Elizabeth running away and trying to cover her tracks by jumping random buses, then disembarking only to do it again on another bus until she decides to stop in the town of Greyston out of pure exhaustion from being on the move all the time. That’s when things really start to get wacky. Greyston is a small English village of women with a medieval tradition that involves kidnapping a man to be king for a year, getting him to impregnate the towns women then sacrificing him to the stone gods on New Year’s Eve. Elizabeth is recused from almost becoming one of the towns women by the man she was running away from.

It soon becomes evident Elizabeth has other special powers as she slips between the cracks of this world and other bizarre, chaotic, parallel universes inhabited by creatures from your childhood nightmares. In these other spheres bad things happen, dramatic rescues take place and Elizabeth is subjected to all kinds of quirky twists and turns, all the while wishing she could just sit quietly at home in a warm bath with a cup of tea.

All the way through this supernatural thriller, I was surprised at how it drew me in. When I had to put it down to go and attend to my ordinary life, I couldn’t wait to get back between it’s strangely engrossing pages. I have never read any of Jodi Taylor’s writing before and it wasn’t until I finished Dark Light that I realised it was the second book in a series – luckily it turned out that didn’t matter particularly, other than being disappointed I hadn’t started at the beginning with White Silence. I am certain I will be reading more of Taylor for another dose of peculiar, spooky fun in the future.