#BookReview: Leech by Hiron Ennes @HironEnnes @panmacmillan @NetGalley
Hi everyone! Today, I have a review for a book from an author new to me, Hiron Ennes. This is a different kind of read for sure, and I picked it up via NetGalley >>>
About the Book:
MEET THE CURE FOR THE HUMAN DISEASE
In an isolated chateau, as far north as north goes, the baron’s doctor has died. The doctor’s replacement has a mystery to solve: discovering how the Institute lost track of one of its many bodies.
For hundreds of years the Interprovincial Medical Institute has grown by taking root in young minds and shaping them into doctors, replacing every human practitioner of medicine. The Institute is here to help humanity, to cure and to cut, to cradle and protect the species from the apocalyptic horrors their ancestors unleashed.
In the frozen north, the Institute’s body will discover a competitor for its rung at the top of the evolutionary ladder. A parasite is spreading through the baron’s castle, already a dark pit of secrets, lies, violence, and fear. The two will make war on the battlefield of the body. Whichever wins, humanity will lose again.
An Unusual and Gothic Horror Read.
Thanks to NetGalley and Pan MacMillan for this Advanced Review Copy.
I haven’t ever read a book quite like this, I don’t think. The main character is a parasite with hosts throughout numerous human bodies, across what remains of the known world, and who has memories and experiences spanning centuries.
“The sight of this old train car saddens me, though I cannot quite articulate why.” … from this opening line, we meet the new ‘institute doctor’ [AKA parasite] on their way to replace the old one, who’s just died at a remote chateau. Quite quickly, things get weird and intriguing. Completely out of the parasite’s experience, he/she/it cannot remember huge chunks of the ‘doctor’s’ last days at the chateau. And that’s only the beginning of the strangeness. It turns out another pathogen is on the loose, and it becomes a race against time for the ‘doctor’ to identify, find, and neutralise this threat, which seems able to disconnect the ‘institute parasite’ from its host[s]. All clear enough so far?
I don’t know in what genre I would place this, and other reviewers call it ‘Gothic Horror’, which seems as apt as any, so I’ll choose that too. First up, this book needs trigger warnings for content. As the story progresses, the reader will come across: dysphoria, child sexual abuse, blood & gore depiction, medical experimentation, and arson, etc. The chateau and its baron are awful, to put it lightly. So, at times, this makes for heavy reading. The narrative also has its light moments with a wonderful sense of humour throughout. The story is both chilling and morally complex, and from that perspective, incredibly well written. Here are some lines I loved …
“He lied so well even he didn’t know it.”
“Fortunately, he is not the kind of man who explodes. He only simmers and melts.”
“… she knew never to look in a mirror in that place, lest her reflection move without her.”
Near the end, we have a lovely line which rounds off wonderfully to where we started on the train … hint: it’s about a pair of institute gloves. I don’t want to put in spoilers, so I’ll say no more here. Sadly, the ending fizzled out somewhat, after so much struggle and pain and perseverance, and the reader doesn’t get to learn whether or not the surviving characters make it. This felt like a let down for me. So, all in all, I found this an enjoyable read–if confusing at times–but one that didn’t satisfy in the closing. The book contains some wonderful lines and descriptions, and tackles difficult topics, with vivid and real-to-life characters and fantastic world-building. For certain, I found it compelling and had to keep going. It gets a soft four stars from me. If you enjoy something a bit different, then this might be the book for you.
NOTE ON RATINGS: I consider a 3-star rating a positive review. Picky about which books I give 5 stars to, I reserve this highest rating for the stories I find stunning and which moved me.
5 STARS: IT WAS AMAZING! I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN! — Highly Recommended.
4 STARS: I WOULD PULL AN ALL-NIGHTER — Go read this book.
3 STARS: IT WAS GOOD! — An okay read. Didn’t love it. Didn’t hate it.
2 STARS: I MAY HAVE LIKED A FEW THINGS —Lacking in some areas: writing, characterisation, and/or problematic plot lines.
1 STAR: NOT MY CUP OF TEA —Lots of issues with this book.
I’d love to hear what you think of this review. Thanks for stopping by 🙂
For anyone interested, here are the Amazon links …