Urban fantasy (The Turn, 2017) and science-fiction thriller (The Operator, 2016) author Harrison steps into decidedly murkier territory with this gothic-tinged short novel.
In the three years since her mother’s death and a subsequent car accident that gravely wounded her boyfriend, Austin, gifted artist Meg Seton finds that grief, depression, anxiety, and rock-bottom self-esteem have made it nearly impossible for her to conduct the routines of daily life without being thrown into a tailspin. Then Meg’s psychiatrist, Dr. Jillium, puts her on a new medication that gives her the confidence to make instant friends with Haley and Rorry, an elegant but friendly couple who are new in town. Are they simply nice people who are interested in Meg, or are they faeries who want to steal Meg away and exploit her art? And why does Austin seem so threatened by them? A plot in which someone is either hallucinating or experiencing a supernatural event, or both, is a classic and tired trope, expressed more effectively in such works as Russell H. Greenan’s It Happened in Boston?, L. Ron Hubbard’s Fear, and Richard Matheson’s Somewhere in Time. It works best if the writer either descends into outright psychedelic imagery or constructs a consistently mundane world that interlocks with the visions. Harrison tries the latter ploy, but it’s riddled with holes. Meg is an incredibly talented painter, but she demonstrates none of the focus or pedagogy needed to teach a class three times a week. Apparently she’s being cared for by a single psychiatrist who puts her on a course of an experimental psychotropic drug with dangerous side effects that have already severely affected a previous patient—and there’s no significant monitoring, oversight by other doctors, rigorous testing protocol, or even a release to sign. There are no relatives or other friends (except for Austin, sort of) to object to this situation, not even a lawyer, which you’d expect a wealthy woman with issues to have.
Neither psychologically plausible nor suspenseful.