The Only Child by Andrew Pyper

Posted On 29 May 2017

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The only child was a good read.  I enjoyed it but to an extent I can’t help but wonder how much of my enjoyment relied on my own personal reading of the classics that this is based on.  In fact it’s a book that definitely had me thinking in two minds about it.  My initial reactions were less favourable, I didn’t like the two characters involved and this always makes it more of a struggle for me to connect.  But, with the extra time I’ve given myself for reflection, and I certainly did find myself thinking about this one quite a bit, I’ve hit upon a few revelations that could be right or wrong but that put the story in a slightly different light for me.

So, Frankenstein, Dracula and Dr Jekyll and Hyde.  Three books that I enjoyed, particularly the first two.  Basically, imagine that the monster of The Only Child has proved the inspiration for all three books – each of the authors being inspired by his entry into their lives and the threat he posed.  All three books fail to describe his character fully, they’re all flawed and yet also fundamentally contain elements of the true nature of this real monster that lives in our world.  Superhuman strength coupled with a certain sadness, ruthlessly violent and craving of blood coupled with abilities to influence somebody’s thoughts, a split personality that fluctuates between reasonable, polite even, and incredibly angry and unpredictably dangerous.

At the start of the story we meet Dr. Lily Dominick as she examines the latest violent patient to be committed to The Kirby, a psychiatric institution – that would probably have been known years earlier as an asylum.  Lily is used to violent paiients and their threats, treating them with a calm detachment, but she is immediately disturbed by this latest inmate and the underlying current of power that he exudes.  As the interview progresses the patient makes impossible claims relating to not only his date of birth that would place him at around 200 years old but also the fact that he is Lily’s father.  From there onwards we have a sort of cat and mouse chase where the cat leaves a trail of breadcrumbs across Europe for the mouse to follow and come to it’s own conclusion in the process.

I must say that the story hooked me fairly quickly, the only reservation being that I found Lily intriguing but difficult to like.  I was certainly interested by the latest inmate and wanted to learn more about him.  Within fairly short order things move on and there are certainly no complaints about the pacing of the book.  Lily finds herself travelling in the footsteps of her would-be-father, quite often placing herself into dangerous situations, life threatening even and discovering not only something of her own hereditary but coming to an understanding herself of why she’s always felt so different.

Basically, as a young child Lily’s mother was violently murdered.  She was about six at the time and she and her mother were staying in a remote cabin in the hills.  The recollections have receded over the years but of late it seems that Lily is starting to suffer bad dreams and hallucinations herself.  As I said I found Lily a little difficult to connect with but, and without trying to give away too much, I think this is intentional on the part of the author.  There was also some odd sexual innuendo between Lily and Michael which I found a little bit off putting given his claims and the fact that she accepted some of the things he said.

For me, this wasn’t just a mystery/thriller in which we uncovered details about the monster but was also a voyage of discovery for Lily, almost a coming of age if you will.  So, yes, I didn’t like her, but I’m also not entirely surprised by the revelation.  She’s very cold and detached and perhaps that’s what has led her to be so successful.   However, she’s always had niggles at the back of her mind about her own inability to fit in and that, for me, is why she pursues this mystery so determinedly, even if some of her choices make her seem a little like a pawn on somebody else’s chessboard.

The Monster, or Michael.  I was absolutely fascinated by his story, I can’t deny it – in fact it was my favourite aspect of the book and I was impatient to get back to it every time I was pulled away.  In fairness I could have easily and maybe even preferably read a more linear version in which Michael related his story from the beginning bringing us to the up to date story in the present day.  As it was we learnt snippets of his history as Lily ducked and dived around the place gathering information.

In terms of criticisms.  I think I had two issues with the story.  Firstly, I didn’t find it particularly scary – but, again, going back to the classics I’m not sure that they would either be considered so in this day and age.   For me, it felt like the author was paying homage to the three books and I think he did a good job in that respect not to mention bringing a different angle to all three.  I think my main issue was plausibility.  I couldn’t put my finger on why Michael chose to reveal  himself to Lily now.  It just felt a bit much to believe somehow.  And added to this is the way in which he makes the revelation – having himself committed and then staging various other crimes to ensure she followed him.  I didn’t really buy into that aspect of the story and in fact I think I almost put it to the back of my mind and was instead gripped by the mystery.  But, I couldn’t help coming back to it.  Yes, of course, I realise that Michael felt the need to allow Lily to come to her own realisations but at the same time I just don’t understand the way he went about it – particularly given that he’s already on the radar of an organisation who are seeking him relentlessly – why leave more clues for them to follow.  Why not just take Lily and talk to her?  Sow the seeds of doubt that will set her mind racing??  In fact, personally, I would have preferred the removal of this ‘third’ party altogether and think the story should simply have focused on Lily and Michael.

Overall I enjoyed this.  It was a quick read.  I struggled to like the characters but I think that’s to be expected to be honest.  I didn’t find it as scary as I would have liked and maybe would have liked an injection of more ‘gothic’.  But, all that being said this was a quick read and a little reflection has helped me to see certain aspects from a different angle as I think my immediate impression was a little more severe due to my dislike of the main characters. – some extra space to think about it has made me see this from a slightly different angle and with a new appreciation.  And I confess that reading this has made me want to go back and read those classics – which is a definite win in my opinion.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

Weekly Wrap Up : 28/5/17

Posted On 28 May 2017

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A quick wrap up – I’ve been away for the past week with family and so behind with blogging.  I have mostly managed to read the books I set out to read in my wrap up last week but all this has really done is make me further behind with reviews.  So, some catching up is in order.

Also, although this is a book blog, I must make a quick heart felt mention for the victims and their families after this week’s terrible terrorist attack in Manchester.  I really feel for you all.  It’s just so very sad and incomprehensible.

  1. Between The Stars by Anne Corlett
  2. All Good Things by Emma Newman
  3. Skitter by Ezekiel Boone – still reading this but I imagine it will be complete by this evening so I’m including it on here.

Next week I’m hoping to read:

compared with:

I think both sets are really good but I love the top set – the colours are just so dramatic and eye catching.  Which is your favourite?

How was your week?  What you currently reading?

“P.S. please if you get a chanse put some flowrs on Algernons grave in the bak yard.”

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Here we are again with the Friday Face Off meme created by Books by Proxy .   This is a great opportunity to feature some of your favourite book covers.  The rules are fairly simple each week, following a predetermined theme (list below) choose a book, compare a couple of the different covers available for that particular book and choose your favourite.   Future week’s themes are listed below. This week’s theme:

Mice “Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are, ‘it might have been’…”

This week the first book that sprang to mind was Mice and Men – but, in spite of the title I’m not sure there are any mice on the covers.  I knew there were mice on the cover of Hitchhikers Guide but the book that really jumped out to me was Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes.

Next week – Moon

Future themes:

02/06/2017 – Moon “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars”

09/06/2017 – Mummy “It shuffles through the dry, dusty darkness”

16/06/2017 – Guitar “You couldn’t not like someone who liked the guitar”

23/06/2017 – Cat “In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this”

30/06/2017 – Hat “It is always cruel to laugh at people, of course, although sometimes if they are wearing an ugly hat it is hard to control yourself “

07/07/2017 – Gold “All that is gold does not glitter”

14/07/2017 – Boats “The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea, in a beautiful pea green boat…”

21/07/2017 – Planet “Any planet is ‘Earth’ to those who live on it”

Waiting on Wednesday : The Girl in the Tower (The Bear and the Nightingale #2) by Katherine Arden

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was created by Breaking the Spine.  Every Wednesday we get to highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  My book this week is : The Girl in the Tower (The Bear and the Nightingale #2) by Katherine Arden.  I am so excited for this book.  The Bear and the Nightingale was so good and I highly recommend it.  I understand the release date is January 2018 BUT I’m fairly certain I saw something that suggested the date might come forward to December 2017 – which is a woohoo moment I think – providing that’s right of course?? Answers on a postcard please.

thegirlThe magical adventure begun in The Bear and the Nightingale continues as brave Vasya, now a young woman, is forced to choose between marriage or life in a convent and instead flees her home—but soon finds herself called upon to help defend the city of Moscow when it comes under siege.

Orphaned and cast out as a witch by her village, Vasya’s options are few: resign herself to life in a convent, or allow her older sister to make her a match with a Moscovite prince. Both doom her to life in a tower, cut off from the vast world she longs to explore. So instead she chooses adventure, disguising herself as a boy and riding her horse into the woods. When a battle with some bandits who have been terrorizing the countryside earns her the admiration of the Grand Prince of Moscow, she must carefully guard the secret of her gender to remain in his good graces—even as she realizes his kingdom is under threat from mysterious forces only she will be able to stop.

‘We’re going where the sun shines brightly’

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Every Tuesday over at  The Broke and Bookish we all get to look at a particular topic for discussion and use various (or more to the point ten) examples to demonstrate that particular topic.  This week’s topic is:

Summer Reads Freebie

Basically my summer reads are the next upcoming list of books waiting on my shelves.  In the spirit of holidays, beaches and generally chilling with an easygoing read I’ve looked through my upcoming books and come up with the following:

  1. All Good Things by Emma Newman
  2. The Space Between the Stars by Emma Corlett
  3. A Kiss Before Doomsday by Laurence MacNaughton
  4. The Fallen Kingdom by Elizabeth May
  5. The Clockwork Dynasty by Daniel H Wilson
  6. Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero
  7. The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman
  8. The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
  9. Sea of Rust by Robert Cargill
  10. The Turn by Kim Harrison

What you looking forward to this Summer?

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