Thursday, 23 June 2011
The Banishing - book review
I better mention upfront that I know the author of The Banishing so I can see how doing a review of her book might look a bit dodgy, but this is an honest, impartial review and Fiona knows that. So onwards:
Horror should go into uncomfortable places. From the first page, Fiona Dodwell’s novel The Banishing definitely does. Domestic violence is a dark, challenging subject. Get it right and you’ve got a powerful story. Get it wrong and you risk trivialising an emotive, upsetting area. For the most part, The Banishing handles the issue well although I did find part of the story a little underdeveloped which I’ll come to in a minute.
A young woman named Melissa has bought a house with her husband Mark. It’s their first home and things are going well until Mark changes. Out with the loving husband, in with the violent and aggressive stranger who alternates between beating Melissa and being remorseful for his actions. It’s not long before the situation escalates to the point of endangering Melissa’s life. At the same time, strange events are happening in the house – sights and sounds of things that definitely aren’t normal.
There’s a superb atmosphere throughout the tale. It’s deeply creepy and bleak with the almost constant rain and sense of Melissa not fitting in either at home or at work. The author definitely knows how to keep a story going and, most importantly, how to keep the reader turning the pages. I’ve come across writers in the past who think they have to sound like writers and end up losing track of their story. Not the case with The Banishing. However, there is an issue between Melissa and Mark (it’ll spoil the story to say what it is) that I felt was skimmed over. It could have added a greater weight to their complex relationship and added more doubt to the value of Melissa’s attempts to salvage her marriage.
Other than this final point, The Banishing is a highly enjoyable horror story and one which I definitely recommend.