Periphery, by Michael Winter: #BookReview.

383 pages

First Contact Science Fiction/Horror

Tense. Taut. Engaging. Absorbing.

It happens to all of us, and those with imagination are especially vulnerable: the situation and/or location carry some element of unfamiliarity. There, in the shadows under the tree, near the open gate, behind the stone wall, we see, or think we see, from the corner of our eye, something odd, strange, maybe even alien, lurking. We turn, look again. Our conscious mind tells us, on this second, rational, inspection that the shadow is no more than that, a trick of the light, a shape our human mind must always make into a pattern of some sort. And we go on our way, almost reassured, but just a little more nervous than we were before.

Periphery is a book that takes this common quality, expands it, applies great imagination, and plunges us into a nightmare world where the threat to the whole of humanity is imminent, violent and deadly.

I’m always a little wary of novels set in the USA: so many of them expect the rest of the world to be fully cognisant of the customs, habits, and sometimes obscure terminology of the country. This one avoided that trap. I understood almost everything I read simply through context.

The protagonists are wonderfully real people with the sort of problems we’re familiar with, even if they’re not our particular issues. As a result, it’s very easy to empathise with them, we care what happens; an essential for me when reading a novel.

The antagonists, and they are multitude, vary from the unaware and ignorant, through the mendacious and supremely ambitious, to the alien with incomprehensible, though utterly credible, motives of their own.

This is not an easy read. But it will have you on the edge of your seat, back against the wall, just in case, turning the pages to discover what happens next. There is injustice, betrayal, danger, insanity, terror, pain, despair, and cruelty here. But there is also compassion, courage, trust, security, care and love.

I wish I’d had the opportunity to read this tale in one session, but life gets in the way, especially for a writer working on their own fiction. Every time I picked it up, I was unwilling to put it back down again. Mind you, I wouldn’t recommend those susceptible to suggestion read it before bed!

It’s a great read, tackling many vital and engaging themes along the way. A story told in a way that allows the reader to skim, as many thrillers deserve, or for the more thoughtful reader to engage with throughout to reach the depths contained in a complex and emotionally powerful tale. Thoroughly enjoyed it!

I wrote this review based on an advance reading copy that the author sent me.

[Any review is a personal opinion. No reviewer can represent the view of anyone else. The best we can manage is an honest reaction to any given book.]