Two reviews for the price of one! While Bleeding Heart missed the mark for me, I think I missed the mark for Fever Dream, I don’t know what the mark was or what the mark was suppose to be but it was all rather strange…
Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin
From the inside cover:
A young woman named Amanda lies dying in a rural hospital clinic. A boy named David sits beside her. She’s not his mother. He’s not her child.
The two seem anxious and, at David’s ever more insistent prompting, Amanda recounts a series of events from the apparently recent past. As David pushes her to recall whatever trauma has landed her in her terminal state, he unwittingly opens a chest of horrors, and suddenly the terrifying nature of their reality is brought into shocking focus.
One of the freshest new voices to come out of the Spanish language, Samanta Schweblin creates an aura of strange and deeply unsettling psychological menace in this cautionary tale of maternal love, broken souls and the power and desperation of family.
While reading this book, I felt like I was in a fever dream; I was never really sure what was going on and after finishing the novel, I’m not sure if I fully grasped the point of it. The entire novel is dialogue between Amanda and David and I detected an eco-horror theme and a theme of maternal anxiety. The writing was lyrical and haunting, the book has this almost lucid feel to it and you kind of enter an altered state because you’re not sure exactly what you’re reading, whether you should believe the events that are being described are true or if in fact the characters are in a fever dream and so nothing is to be believed.
As I wasn’t entirely sure what message the book was trying to deliver, I’m finding it difficult to know what I took away from this read, I definitely got the ‘maternal love’ part – danger is present and mothers cannot always protect their children – and I think there may be something about humans need to stop abusing the environment or it will abuse us back, maybe, I really don’t know. The ending was abrupt and didn’t offer much in the way of a conclusion or answering questions, I’m just really confused. If this book is a metaphor for something, it may have just gone straight over my head. However, I do like the fact that the book had the power to disorientate me, almost put me in a trance while reading, so I can’t deny Schweblin writes powerfully – credit to Megan McDowell for the translation.
The novel itself is a little over 150 pages and I highly recommending reading it one sitting if you do decide to give it a go because it’s too strange to put down and come back to it, if you’re going to enter a disorientated state, better to see it through to the end!
Bleeding Heart by Lauren Bishop
From the back cover:
Simone is an only child growing up in Michigan with her two loving parents. They give her the world and she doesn’t want for anything. She spends her summers in her plush tree house that rivals some homes and her winters skiing in Minnesota with her best friends. But one spring day everything changes. Her parents never come home and she’s left with only memories. It’s been years since her parents’ death and she’s gone from foster homes to crashing with friends. She finds herself defeated with nowhere to go and desperation sets in.
Neil is a sinister man that feeds off of control. He has a way of always getting what he wants. Simone is young, beautiful and vulnerable. He has to have her. He becomes her knight in shining armor and sweeps her off of her feet. Little does she know getting wrapped up in Neil’s web will be the worst mistake of her life. Living as Neil’s prisoner, Simone doesn’t think things could get any worse. But when Neil sets his sights on a new conquest obsession and murder threaten everyone in his path. With her life at stake, Simone must dig deep within herself to finally find a way out.
Bleeding Heart was not the novel I thought it would be… when the author contacted me to see if I’d be interested in reading her novel, she described it as “a suspenseful read with coming-of-age qualities” – while that description is spot on, from the synopsis, I was expecting this novel to have some dark/sinister moments, sadly, that wasn’t the case. Apart from the descriptions of physical and sexual abuse (not in great detail), this novel read very much like a YA novel, and this kind of put me off because I was thinking, had these accounts not been included, I would recommend this book to a younger reading audience but they were included so I’m guessing this is classified as adult fiction, in which case, it didn’t really work for me. A large portion of this novel is told from the perspective of a younger Simone (at ages 9, 11 and 15), at the end of the novel Simone is 18; a young protagonist likely explains why the novel reads like YA.
However, I don’t think any of the themes ran deep enough for me. Yes, there were moments of suspense but I didn’t really understand Neil’s end game; there were also several moments I think that escape was possible and I think the portrayal of the victim(s) as weak frustrated me because from what I’d read previously, I believed they’d be a bit stronger willed. Also, the suspense element didn’t come through as strong as I’d like and I think that’s due to me not being invested enough in the story.
The foundation was there and I saw so much potential in this novel but unfortunately it missed the mark for me. It may be more suited to those who enjoy YA books but are looking for some darker themes that adult fiction offers.
This book is available to buy from: Amazon UK