A little less than two years since the release of The Girl With All the Gifts, Orbit Books has at long last pulled back the curtain to give us a glimpse of the next novel to come from M. R. Carey.
M. R. Carey is of course the pen name of Mike Carey, author of the fantastic Felix Castor series, not to mention many of my favourite current and classic comics, like Lucifer, The Unwritten and, most recently, Rowans Ruin: the so far, so superb story of a haunted house-swap which boasts the same great characterisation and tendency to twist that made The Girl With All the Gifts so very exceptional.
In synopsis, Fellside itself seems to be a “haunting and heartbreaking” supernatural thriller with shades of Shawshank Redemption.
Jess Moulson is convicted of a murder she can’t remember committing.
Nothing is quite clear from the drug-fuelled night when a blaze set in her apartment killed the little boy upstairs. But when the media brands Jess a child killer, she starts to believe it herself.
Now she’s on her way to Fellside, the biggest, most formidable women’s prison in Europe, standing in the bleak Yorkshire moors.
But Jess won’t be alone in her prison cell. Lurking in the shadows is an unexpected visitor… the ghost of the ten-year-old boy she killed. He says he needs her help—and he won’t take no for an answer.
Early readers have dubbed Fellside “a dark and occasionally brutal book,” noting that it’s “extremely different” from The Girl With All the Gifts, if “equally engrossing.”
What really speaks to me is the notion that its narrator might not be entirely reliable. I haven’t read Fellside yet—though I will, and you can hold me to that, folks—but the prospect of Jess’ perspective already has me postulating all sorts of possibilities. For instance, what if the voice of the little boy she hears is the coping mechanism of a mind mired in remorse rather than a matter-of-fact manifestation of the uncanny?
Unremarkable as it may be, the stark cover art—which has the titular prison facility in the middle distance, half-hidden by the mist of the moors—certainly suggests there’s some big secret to be revealed here, as it was with the particulars of the protagonist of the last novel to bear M. R. Carey’s name.
Find out for yourselves what he has up his sleeves when Fellside is published in the UK and elsewhere by Orbit Books in early April.
Niall Alexander is an extra-curricular English teacher who reads and writes about all things weird and wonderful for The Speculative Scotsman, Strange Horizons, and Tor.com. He lives with about a bazillion books, his better half and a certain sleekit wee beastie in the central belt of bonnie Scotland.