Thursday, 28 November 2013
Review: The Uninvited by Liz Jensen
"A seven-year-old girl puts a nail gun to her grandmother's neck and fires." How can you not be drawn to a book with a blurb that starts like that?! What... just me? Ahem... But seriously, the premise of kids killing their families all over the world grabbed me straight away. I don't know what that says about me. But there's something about murderous children that makes them the most unsettling kind of villains in the horror genre. The Uninvited certainly delivered on the creepy children front.
Hesketh Lock, an anthropologist with Asperger's Syndrome who has trouble with people but excels at patterns and puzzles, is investigating a case of corporate sabotage that ends in the perpetrator's suicide. Similar events are happening all over the world. Hesketh begins to see a pattern, and detects it's somehow connected to the increasing number of attacks by kids everywhere. But it's not until events hit closer to home than he ever imagined that he realises just how connected everything is.
I don't want to give too much away, because this really is a deliciously suspenseful read and it's best not to know a lot going into it. I loved the central mystery, the creepiness of the whole thing and the way events escalated to the point where the world of the story was well and truly a horror to behold. But what made it so compelling was the unique and complex character of Hesketh, and the way he reacts to the situation and tries to make sense of everything. His complicated and often touching relationships with the other characters, and the way the horror enters his own life, provides the emotional core of the novel. And boy, was it emotional.
Liz Jensen's writing is strong, and Hesketh's voice felt very authentic to me. I really liked the pace of The Uninvited, as it starts out as a slow burn before expanding to Lord of the Flies-type mayhem on steroids. The only thing that let this book down for me was the ending. I just found the explanation of what had happened to be really silly. It's a shame because otherwise this is a really effective horror story.
Published: 2013, Bloomsbury
Get It: Book Depository