The Unusual Possession of Alastair Stubb

The Unusual Possession of Alastair Stubb: A Gothic Tale - David John Griffin

Oh, I had such high hopes for this.


Even starting it I was intrigued. It felt a little Alice in Wonderland (or, okay, maybe just a little Splintered), and I do love gothic books set in weird places. Asylums? Crazy people? Icing on the cake!


Then things got weird.


Now, weird can be good. There is lots of good weird in fiction, and there's a place for it. That place is even often on my bookshelf. This took things to a new a different weird place, and I was not enjoying the trip. Do you know that moment when you are reading along, and you have to stop for something, and then the entirety of what you have been reading hits you like a freight train and you are vaguely horrified at yourself? That was this book for me. I set it down for ten minutes for something and then picked it back up and looked at the words in complete confusion. The spell was broken and I realized nothing made sense.


The second part of the book does manage to at least maintain a moderately coherent plot thread, but even then it is not anywhere near as enjoyable as I would hope. The first part just sort of stumbles through character interactions and situations like a drunk at a party, knocking things down without picking them back up and often turning around and going the wrong way for a time.


The characters are all pretty awful. Their motives for any of their actions are paper-thin at best (we're talking newsprint and not watercolor paper, here), and honestly, they were all insane. Or sociopathic. Or perhaps both--I'm not a psychiatrist, and I'm not sure I'm comfortable diagnosing (or being in the same room) as these people. They went from happiness to anger to happiness to murder to not murder to murder but by a different way to happiness to fear. In one chapter. Without a great rationale behind pretty much any of it.


I hate not liking gothic and quirky books, but I'm not sure I should have even finished this. I think I was hoping it would get better at some point, but unfortunately it never managed.


This book was provided to me for free via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.