Saturday, 23 April 2016

Fellside by M.R. Carey

I first came across M.R. Carey through my brother, who leant me a copy of his most excellent The Girl With All The Gifts. A zombie apocalypse novel which broke the mold, I was immensely impressed by M.R. Carey's debut novel and so couldn't wait to read his second book. He didn't disappoint,

Fellside is a departure from the zombie apocalypse genre he so successfully populated with his first novel, striking out this time into the territory of ghosts, hauntings and the afterlife. Our protagonist is Jess Moulson, a heroin addict sentenced to a term in prison for the death of a young boy. High on drugs, she apparently burnt down the apartment building she lived in after an argument with her boyfriend, killing the child in the flat above.

Moulson is sent to HMP Fellside, a fictional prison M.R.Carey has sited in the North York Moors. Fellside is a foreboding stone edifice built on Sharne Fell, which the author memorably describes as having "rock escarpments falling away from the base of its wall like the folds of a dress." It's an arresting image clearly inspired by the portentous imagery of the real-life Dartmoor, perhaps even the state penitentiary in The Shawshank Redemption. And like both those places, Fellside is not a happy place.

Moulson is soon visited by the ghost of Alex Beech, the boy who died in the flat above hers, and discovers a world she recalls from her childhood, a spirit world which she used to pop in and out of and which now Alex guides her through. Alex is not doing this out of the goodness of his heart however, he wants something from Jess, namely her help in discovering the exact circumstances. Grudgingly she agrees to help, turns back from her guilt and self-immolation, and sets out to help Alex solve the mystery of his life and death.

Fellside is an accomplished tale, every bit as good as The Girl With All The Gifts, and M.R. Carey carries it off with aplomb. He really is turning into a writer to watch and I can't wait to read what he has to offer up next.

5 out of 5 stars

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