Monday, November 19, 2012

Review -- Dungeon Brain by Benjamin Kane Etheridge

Summary (courtesy of GoodReads): From Bram Stoker Award winning author Benjamin Kane Ethridge.

June Nilman is a woman with thousands of personalities in her head and none of them are her own. Stricken with amnesia and trapped in a room in an abandoned hospital, her caretaker, Nurse Maggie, wants her to remain captive forever. At night June hears creatures patrolling in and out of the hospital, and in time discovers Maggie has mental control over them. In planning her escape, June has an extensive catalogue of minds to probe for help, but dipping into the minds of her mental prisoners is often a practice in psychological endurance. Escape seems impossible until June discovers a rat hole in the wall-- the starting point of her freedom.

But freedom in this war-torn world may be more dreadful than she ever imagined.

Dungeon Brain is a locked room mystery of the body and mind that expands across the realms of science fiction and horror.

And here's what I thought:  I had read and reviewed Black & Orange by this author a while back, so when I was contacted about reading his newest book, Dungeon Brain, I thought I'd give it a try. And though I did try, I just had a hard time getting into this book.

Etheridge does a great job of crafting a story that has lots of unpredictable and scary characters, and lots of dark corners for your mind to explore (and then recoil from).   Etheridge also has an uncanny knack for putting the reader smack in the middle of the main character's head ..... and it's not a comfortable place to be.   And I think this is where I lost my feeling of being connected to the book.

The pacing in the story is slow, and while it does build up as it goes along, I think I was looking for something with a faster pace.  I found I frequently wasn't sure of what was happening in the story, had to stop, go back, try to get my footing again .....   and while this is sometimes something I relish in a story, I felt so unbalanced in this one that I had a hard time getting my footing.  After a while, I gave up, and just tried to follow the storyline, and then it was easier.  However, I never really felt like I was quite connecting to the characters --- I never felt like I had a firm grasp on June, and frankly, Maggie scared the heck out of me.

I think this is a story that might resonate with the right reader at the right time, especially if they like dark, psychological horror.   Right now, I'm not that reader ---- it just didn't resonate with me, and instead, I found the book to be disturbing in a way that was unappealing (instead of fascinating).  I don't think this is the fault of the author --- I just think that right now, with what I have going on my life, this kind of story isn't what's appealing to me.   I feel in a way like I failed this book --- maybe I'll give it another try in the future and see how I do with it.

If the synopsis above sounds interesting, I'd encourage you to look at the other reviews on GoodReads, where the book really resonated with readers, and who have some well-written comments on the book.

First lines:  I remembered dying.   But now I was here, in this dingy hospital room.  The artillery fire softened outside and I drew closer to the window.  The woman reflected in the glass looked back, tonguing her upper lip.  Dark cherry hair and black eyes.  That wasn't my reflection.  Who the hell?


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