Brood by Chase Novak
Brood by Chase Novak was one of my holiday reads – not exactly a beach read (but then I’m not really a beach person!). The story starts with Aunt Cynthia winning her custody case to take Adam and Alice, her niece and nephew back to their old home. Adam and Alice have been kept in a string of foster homes since the violent deaths of their parents. Apparently Brood is the follow up to Breed. I haven’t read Breed but I don’t think that was detrimental to this read as I think it stands very well on it’s own. There is some backstory but not enough to be annoying, just enough to clue you in to a story that takes off at a rather rapid pace.
The back history to this is that Cynthia’s sister and husband were struggling to conceive children and in a last ditch, not to mention rather expensive, attempt they undertook radical and painful treatment that resulted in the twins birth. Unfortunately the side effects were severe and most of the parents who took the treatment were little able to cope with the changes which seemed to turn them almost into animals themselves. It was from this that Alice and Adam escaped and as the story picks up we realise that they are in a desperate struggle themselves. They already know that the onset of puberty could start to bring about drastic changes to their own nature and they’re desperately trying to fight time.
I did enjoy this book and found it quite a compelling read. It’s also quite a thought provoking novel in more than one way looking at family and how miscommunication or lack of communication can be fundamental to huge gaps in understanding.
Cynthia, Adam and Alice make an attempt at trying to become a family but whilst Cynthia may think she loves the twins she really has very little notion of their true character. They also, whilst wanting to be ‘regular’ kids and wanting to contain their inner nature are actually most comfortable when running with their own kind. A feral pack of children who were the result of similar treatment and have now converged to live together in Central Park. Hidden from most people they are free to roam there and let their true natures roam free.
On top of this there is the added element whereby somebody seems to be seeking out these children and abducting them for who knows what reason. This person currently has his sights set on Alice and Adam and his stalking their home.
The home itself adds another element to the story. The house bore witness to all sorts of atrocities before the children escaped and was left in a ravaged state overrun by vermin and partially destroyed. Cynthia, always a little envious of her sister’s wealth coveted this house and now, with the custody of the children, she finally moves in. Frankly, I confess, I wouldn’t want to live there! Not just because of it’s horrific past but it’s so damn big – you wouldn’t know if somebody was living in one of the other rooms. You’d certainly never hear them. And, on top of that the house still seems to play host to a number of critters, living in the walls and cellar. Bats and Rats!
This is a fairly short and quick read so I’m not going to elaborate further.
As I said, I enjoyed this but I did have criticisms. For example, as someone wanting to start afresh would I personally take these children back to their former home. No. I just don’t think I would. (Although this could have been difficult to get round in terms of the custody agreement). On top of that I think there could have been a little more psychological build up. I wanted more chills really and think there was just a touch of creepiness missing and a missed opportunity in a way.
Having said that the author definitely achieves horror aplenty from the attacks in the park to the horrible guy who is stalking the children. There’s also the whole element that you want to believe that the children will behave like children, that they’re just misunderstood somehow!
A book of nature vs nurture with nuances of ‘be careful what you wish for’! On top of this there is an underlying theme of parenting and the struggles that occur as their children, once so angelic, turn into beastly teenagers. Okay, it’s a very exaggerated look but nonetheless! Whilst I might not have absolutely loved this I think it does perfectly what it sets out to. It’s a little chilling, particularly at the start of the novel, it’s scary, in terms of being scared for your children and also being scared of them. It has a certain level of tension and also scenes of horror. Really very readable and well written although if you’re a little squeamish you might not like certain elements of the story.
I received a copy of this through the publishers through Netgalley, for which my thanks. The above is my own opinion.
I’m submitting this for one of my RIP reads over at Stainless Steel Droppings.