This book has lived rent-free in my mind since the day I read it; and you need to buy it ASAP if you’re a Gideon the Ninth fan – or if you just like complicated, eerie horror. I know that every time I read this, I’m going to find something new that I didn’t know about before. It’s just that deliciously layered.
Thanks to Tor for the eARC of this book. It has not affected my honest review.
About the book:
In an isolated chateau, as far north as north goes, the baron’s doctor has died. The doctor’s replacement has a mystery to solve: discovering how the Institute lost track of one of its many bodies.
For hundreds of years the Interprovincial Medical Institute has grown by taking root in young minds and shaping them into doctors, replacing every human practitioner of medicine. The Institute is here to help humanity, to cure and to cut, to cradle and protect the species from the apocalyptic horrors their ancestors unleashed.
In the frozen north, the Institute’s body will discover a competitor for its rung at the top of the evolutionary ladder. A parasite is spreading through the baron’s castle, already a dark pit of secrets, lies, violence, and fear. The two will make war on the battlefield of the body. Whichever wins, humanity will lose again.
What did I think?
I had no idea what was going on in this entire story, it felt like the moment I found my feet, something would shift and change my entire perspective on the book. The way that the gothic and sci-fi was blended together was incredible. The interesting – and slightly confusing at first – premise to this book is that the main character and narrator is a doctor. Who is controlled by a parasitic hivemind with centuries worth of medical experience through hundreds of hosts, under the guise of a company called the Institute. I finished this book with a strange feeling of awe. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book like this before. It was the same feeling I had when I finished Gideon the Ninth – which my followers will know is my favourite book – it was so different that I didn’t know what to feel.
The audiobook was well performed. The accents were excellent and created a real sense of character and the audio performance created a lot of depth particularly when it came to the conversations that our main character had with themselves. It could have been confusing to listen to, but the writing and performance made it so smooth and easy to understand.
The writing is reminiscent of old classic horror, and I got a lot of the same vibes from LEECH as I did from Frankenstein – which is damn high praise, really. Still it wasn’t so classical as to be difficult to parse, and even through audiobook it was still incredibly accessible and easy to read. Within a chapter or two I was so wholly immersed that I had adapted completely to the writing style. This was a single-sitting book for sure, and even weeks after reading I was still thinking about this book constantly. I can’t wait to see what else Hiron Ennes writes because I know it’s going to be incredible.
There is a lot of gore and body horror in this book, and I love gory horror so when I say that this took me aback at moments, you know it’s real gross. It’s graphic and doesn’t shy away from showing the worst sides of its characters – be they parasitic creatures or regular awful humans. It was raw and dark reading and I absolutely adored it, but I don’t think it’s for the faint of heart. Don’t be fooled by classical writing, this is a new kind of horror novel.
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Release Date: 29th September 2022