The Only Child is a thrilling horror-mystery story weaved by bestselling Canadian author Andrew Pyper. Have you ever stopped to wonder if Hyde, Dracula, and Frankenstein were the same monster? What if that monster had a child?
When Lily was a child her mother was killed by a monster in an Alaskan cabin. Thirty years later Dr. Lily Dominick is the assistant Director of Forensic Psychiatry at a maximum security institution where her job is to interview “monsters”. Her next client to interview is an unnamed, lean, broad-chested man with a defined jawline, gray eyes, and a strange accent. After the strange interview Lily can’t shake the strange feeling that she somehow knows this man. He later claims that he is Michael, the 222 year old monster who inspired some of the most famous horror authors of our time: Robert Louis Stevenson, the author of Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde; Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein; and Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula.
The Only Child is a thriller from the first page to the last word. I didn’t want to put it down, and found myself reading in bed well past my bedtime. I loved how Lily traveled from Manhattan to Budapest, Geneva to London, Romania to Yukon, seeking to discover if Michael really is who he claims to be, and in the process she learns much more about herself than she ever could have imagined.
One of my favourite aspects of this novel are the old diary entries from Michael’s journals which provided insight into how he met Robert Louis Stevenson, Mary Shelley, and Bram Stoker.
The strange sexual attraction Lily had to almost every man she met in the story was confusing. I’m guessing Pyper did this as a way to show how much she was deviating from her normal non-impulsive, controlling personality. But as a woman I found that annoyingly sexist. The love-interest trope was completely unnecessary in my opinion. When we met Lily she was a strong, independent, smart, successful woman, and then she became weak, dependent on Will. I didn’t quite appreciate her character “arc”, which wasn’t really an arc at all.
The horror Gothic feeling is there, simmering below the surface, covered in unnecessary tropes. It’s one of those instances where less is more. We needed less Michael being hunted, less father-daughter-incest thoughts, less romance, and more monster scariness. It’s not a bad book by any means. As a fan of classic horror stories, I loved the idea and concepts here. It just wasn’t one of the best I’ve read.
Expected publication date is May 23rd, 2017.
Other books by Andrew Pyper:
“Professor David Ullman is among the world’s leading authorities on demonic literature, with special expertise in Milton’s Paradise Lost. Not that David is a believer—he sees what he teaches as a branch of the imagination and nothing more. So when the mysterious Thin Woman arrives at his office and invites him to travel to Venice and witness a “phenomenon,” he turns her down. She leaves plane tickets and an address on his desk, advising David that her employer is not often disappointed.
That evening, David’s wife announces she is leaving him. With his life suddenly in shambles, he impulsively whisks his beloved twelve-year-old daughter, Tess, off to Venice after all. The girl has recently been stricken by the same melancholy moods David knows so well, and he hopes to cheer her up and distract them both from the troubles at home.”
“Attorney Bartholomew Crane doesn’t belong in the small town of Murdoch. And the town of Murdoch doesn’t want him there. Even Crane’s client, a teacher accused of killing two girls, his own students, doesn’t seem to care if Crane gets him off or not. But Bartholomew Crane has come to Murdoch to try his first murder case — and he intends to win at all costs.
That is, until the case takes an unexpected turn. For as Crane begins to piece together a defense for his client, he finds himself being drawn into a bizarre legend at the heart of the town’s history — a legend that is slowly coming alive before his eyes.
Unnerved by visions he sees on Murdoch’s dark streets, by the ringing of a telephone down the deserted hallway of his hotel, Crane is beginning to suspect that what is happening to him is happening for a reason. And that the two lost girls of Murdoch may be intricately tied to the town’s shameful history … and to a dark episode in his own long-forgotten past.”
The publisher kindly sent me a complimentary advanced digital copy in return for an honest review.