FELLSIDE by M.R. Carey


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A woman in prison must fight violent inmates and suspicious ghosts to find some measure of redemption.

Jess Moulson wakes up in the hospital with no memory of where she is or what has happened. High on heroin, she started a fire that burned her own face beyond recognition, severely injured her addict boyfriend, and led to 10-year-old Alex Beech’s death by smoke inhalation. Jess is found guilty of Alex’s murder and sentenced to Fellside, a notorious women’s prison in the remote Yorkshire moors. Alex’s ghost visits her in prison, assuring her that she was not the one who hurt him and begging her to uncover the truth behind his murder. Soon Jess is projecting into “the Other World” with Alex while simultaneously navigating the very dangerous real world of Fellside. Sociopathic inmate Harriet Grace rules the hierarchy. With the help of a corrupt guard, she controls a lucrative drug ring that operates within the prison walls. Jess sets out to solve the boy’s murder and expose Grace, but gradually she realizes that Alex is not who she thought he was, and she may be trusting a false ghost. This novel may appeal to those who like ghost stories, but its success requires an extreme suspension of disbelief. The problem is that most of the novel is relatively realistic and grim, so it’s rather a lot for the reader to openly accept the ghost/astral projection angle when Jess begins to walk through other inmates’ dreams and visit “the Other World” populated by people’s souls. The mystery of Alex does have a satisfying answer, but in the end, there are too many loose ends to tie up.

The leaps between reality and supernatural fantasy are just too hard to navigate.

Pub Date: April 5th, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-316-30028-5
Page count: 496pp
Publisher: Orbit/Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 2016


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