Brett McBean’s The Invasion is a horrible, nasty bastard of a novel, and I mean that in the most very positive of ways. It had me squirming and gasping pretty much all the way through as I held the Kindle at full arms length, as though my subconscious was telling me to put it down.
The story is of a group of family and friends after a pre-Christmas meal in a large secluded house. Their night is turned into utter carnage by a group of intruders hell bent on killing them all and watching them suffer, whilst filming it all, obviously. The group is led by the mysterious Mr Fear, who enjoys nothing more than witnessing the absolute terror of someone about to die as they accept their fate.
I’d read a couple of reviews of this before diving in, and one of them had complained of a lot of info-dumping going on. Now yeah, that’s kind of true, and after the initial intro where the events that are about to unfold are reflected upon, the book does seem to be simply setting up the characters’ backstories. But the thing is, it’s well written enough for this to not be a problem. You just know things are going to take a more brutal turn, and then suddenly they do.
Once the intruders enter and tie up the luckless protagonists, the true nature of their pretty sick and morally-deranged minds begins to take hold. Throughout the stomach-churning gore and horrific moments we are drip-fed more backstory points, but this only serves to make the brutal bits more brutal!
The novel is very claustrophobic, every scene is in the house or the courtyard outside. You, like the characters fighting for their lives, feel that there is no escape from this place. It has very much got the vibe of the film Funny Games, another plus!
There are a few spoiler-esque points coming up, minute details that prevent me from giving this book the full rating available.
Firstly, the house seems almost self-aware, judging by the prologue and epilogue (although not named as these). I just wondered whether the house may have been more of a ‘character’ throughout the whole book, possibly interfering in how everything eventually plays out. Or maybe it does?
Then there’s the mention of the ghost that Paul witnessed there a few years ago. I thought that there would be more about this, perhaps it would help the victims escape, or possibly aid the intruders? Although, the lack of any more ghost mentions did nothing detrimental to the novel.
And finally, I would have loved a bit more insight into Mr Fear. OK, you could argue that the stuff you don’t know about makes the character a lot more sinister and frightening. Maybe he will make another appearance in another of McBean’s books in the future? Now that would be cool.
But on the whole, a great read. Feeling uncomfortable while reading is what I crave, and not just because my sofa’s lumpy! Highly recommended.
Categories: book review