CN: rape, sexual assault, kidnapping. Seriously, this book is very triggering.
I remember picking this book up randomly one day in a book store, thinking it was about religion. I cringed when I saw the subject matter: an attractive man kidnapped and held against his will, subject to torture and sexual menace at the hands of women. I looked it up on Goodreads and found it wasn’t considered grindhouse shock shlock, but a literary meditation on gender and power dynamics.
I wasn’t confident to buy it that day, nor did I do so in the future but it’s been on my wish list for a long time. I checked out from the library twice but each time, returned it unread.
For my local library bingo, I was tasked with reading a “book outside of my comfort zone.” Hoo boy, does this one meet the description. So I decided it was finally time.
I’m glad I did. This is indeed a literary take on the subject. Thomson doesn’t shy away from sadistic acts but he also doesn’t describe them in graphic detail like, say, Stieg Larsson. This is more a meditation on what happens AND the long lasting effects, which move the reader to the last page.
Thomson has a great command of language. His prose is sparse but his descriptions are rich, both of atmosphere and of the mind of the main character. It’s a psychological examination in the Halloween costume of a crime novel.
The ending might not be for everyone but I felt like it worked. I won’t spoil it but having worked with enough rape survivors, I know that there are not easy answers. Recovery is not a straight line.
Will say it one more time: if you are a survivor or have a hard time stomaching rape, this is not the book for you. Even if it’s not a graphic as it could be, it’s still tough.