The debut psychological-horror novel from author Marty Thornley is a page-turning ride, a front row seat to a clinical trial gone horribly wrong.
For Greg Owens, this was supposed to be a chance to end years of back pain and escape his reliance on pain pills. If it all worked out, he could maybe even get back the life he left behind as the pills took control.
Instead, as the patients are cured of their physical pain, they encounter a different sort of pain building inside them – obsessive thoughts, depression, self-destruction. The side-effects grow worse, and the suspense ratchets tighter. The patients want answers and violent revenge, setting them on a collision course with a crazed doctor, determined to protect his life’s obsession.
A book of two halves.
In the first half, we are introduced to quite a large cast of characters.
We meet Greg and other patients, all of whom are suffering, for various reasons, from chronic and debilitating pain. They are, understandably, willing to try anything to be cured and are happy to be a part of the ‘clinical trials’ which are taking place in a hospital out in the middle of nowhere.
We are also meet Dr. Menta, who is running the trials, alongside Dr. Georgia and nursing staff. Their reasons for taking part in the unorthodox trials are less obvious, and not really explained.
Most of the characters are reasonably well fleshed out with some backstory, although I didn’t really connect with any of them.
The latter half of the book descends into a bloody and gory ‘horror film’ scenario, as the patients, now pain-free, turn on the staff, each other and themselves.
This book is an interesting read, definitely set in the horror genre and not for the faint-hearted.
Marty started writing short stories as a teenager, inspired as much by favorite books and movies as the environment and characters that define the South Shore of Massachusetts. The pull of the movies dragged him first to film school and finally to Los Angeles, where he poked at the outskirts of the industry with screenplays and short films.
As his interest in a film career fizzled, he rebuilt himself bit-by-bit as a programmer. He spent the next decade building websites, finally realizing that something had been lost. His stories were collecting dust in the back of his brain while he sat through conference calls and code reviews.
So he returned to the woods of New England and the calming darkness under the trees. He returned to find the things that crawl in the undergrowth and turn them into words on the page. He dusted off one of his screenplays and turned it into his first novel. In the process, a dormant storyteller was awakened and is now seeking the next blank page to fill.