We’re going to take time out from the One Book Interview this week for another review.
Before we get to the book, what’s it about?
Imagine you lose your mind… and something’s waiting to take its place.
Isobel Hickey’s husband, Richard, was intense, exciting and crazy, and she wants him back. The problem is she can’t have him: he died two years ago in circumstances too painful to remember. Now, she must keep going on for teenage children, Ben and Melissa, and her dog, Brodie. But how can she when nothing makes sense anymore? When she’s haunted by ghostly footprints in the snow, and a sinister stranger who knows too much about her?
When a mute old woman speaks from her death-bed, she plunges Isobel into terrifying danger, a nightmare chain of frightening events where Richard’s secrets lurk and threaten Isobel’s sanity. Now she has to fight to save her children from an insidious evil she doesn’t understand. She must uncover who, or what, is haunting her. But is she strong enough or will she succumb to its malevolent desire?
My thoughts about Fitful Head?
There are a lot of things to like about this book, but I struggled in places.
The things that stood out for me.
- The opening section is great. The short punchy sentences work really well and are used to great effect here and in other similar passages throughout the book.
- The prose is well written.
- The cover suits the book perfectly.
- The emotional fragility of the main character is nicely explored as the book progresses.
- I liked not knowing what happened to the husband until the end. That added to the unease and suspense.
There were some things I wasn’t so keen on.
- The timeline jumps around a lot. This was confusing at times and disrupted the flow of the text. Some of the flashbacks are preceded by a reference to set the scene up but I didn’t always catch them and had to keep checking back to work out what was going on.
- Despite the main character’s emotional fragility being handled well, there were moments that I didn’t really understand why or what she was doing. The out of character behaviour may have been the point, but it didn’t always work well for me.
- I wasn’t sure why some of the scenes were there – such as the events happening in the dog walking scenes. They make a little more sense towards the end of the book but while reading them they seemed unnecessary.
- I would have preferred one POV throughout. As it is, there are only a few chapters which deviate from the main character and that change of perspective jarred.
- The book is formatted as one long chapter, which makes flicking forwards and backwards hard.
All in all, Fitful Head is a slow read, a mix of a psychological thriller and a ghost story. It has a lot to recommend it but I think it could have been so much better if it had been tightened up in places.
If you want to read about the words behind the words, you can read an interview with the author here.
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