DISCLOSURE: I received a copy from the author in exchange of an honest review. My opinions are my own.
Then, suddenly, their heads explode and from the festering brains erupts hundreds and thousands of lady bugs.
Resuming roughly a month after the events of its predecessor, Merry Murder, it was precisely that: a perilous foray into the psychologically unstable. And given the first installment, exploring those issues and how said events drastically changed their lives, the psychology of Angel Gelique’s characters was the next logical progression.
Clocking in at less than a hundred pages (excluding the prologue, as it was the entire final chapter of Book I,) the narrative substance was both more and less than before. Less because the time span was shorter, and therefore there was less going on. Simultaneously, it almost felt like more happened because of the heightened awareness of everything. There were also less central characters and more supportive ones, which was not unlike a Hollywood film.
By the way, I think the trilogy as a whole would make an excellent film adaptation.
By utilizing that medium, the wordiness and slightly annoying, hyphenated words would be obliterated. I don’t say this to nitpick or to give unfair criticism, but to honestly convey the experience. Additionally, the film adaptation would imbue the story with visual stimuli that I felt the books lacked. These were all very minor, and could easily be rectified.
Maeve’s character, however, would take a little more work. I wanted to learn more about her. For instance, how did she and her husband, Paul, meet? What did her upbringing resemble? Where’d she grow up? What were her hopes and dreams? Her fears? What made her tic? How’d she become so enamoured by her daughter that she’d do practically anything for her? And how did Ryan fit into their complex family dynamic?
The psychological aspect worked on multiple levels. Not only was it indicative of their mental and emotional mentalities; it also called into question what was real, and was mere fantasy. This was a clever and interesting choice, and though the notion of reality vs. hallucination has become cliche, it worked nicely here. So much so that although I’ve read it, I still find myself second-guessing pretty much everything.
Being so immersed in the psyche also lent it a great deal of unpredictability. I never knew what was coming next, or what extremes they’d go to, or who the next victim might or might not be.
The ending. That’s the beauty of it, really. What actually happened? Were they figments of her imagination? The reader’s left with more questions than answers. Now ordinarily, this wouldn’t work because, simply put, the audience wants some answers, even in the middle of a trilogy; we need a semblance of closure. When that doesn’t happen, the reader tends to be disappointed. Upset, even.
Why did it work here and not in others? I think it was fear of the unknown. Is there anything more disconcerting? It was also successful because the ending was earned, and with that, you can never go wrong. Some might say it was more of the same, and it was, to an extent, but the severity and increasing awareness of it amplified the narrative scope.