2023 Book Review: Reprieve

Reprieve by James Han Mattson

A Horror, 2021 by William Morrow, 406 Pages 

What I Didn’t Like:

  • Come for the horror and you’ll find the pacing too slow. Is this horrific and thrilling? Yes! But it’s also taking you on a journey. It takes time.
  • None of the characters are explored in depth. That is to say you aren’t in anyone’s head and you don’t know anything for certain. That forces the story to maintain a level of mystery and uncertainty some readers might not like.
  • The level of gore is medium, I’d say. If you like heavy gore in horror you’ll say it’s not enough. If you don’t like gore the Cells will be too much. 

What I Did Like:

  • I always enjoy dual timelines, specifically in horror. It’s fascinating to read about seemingly normal people and normal timelines and know something will happen to bring them to this other timeline where something awful happened. 
  • “…life is the real horror, isn’t it?” That quote from this book totally sums up this message. I agree. Real people are the worst horrors. The things we do to each other are terrifying. This book focuses on that.
  • Clashing genres. Contemporary could-be-happening-anywhere story slams into horror in the best way. The lessons are contemporary and real. The terror is real. It’s well done and it will stick in your brain a long time. 
  • The court transcripts are a good addition. They add to the sense of urgency and drama. 
  • Flawed characters. They’re all battling something, they’re all so terribly realistic and flawed. Some confront it, some get called out for it, some don’t ever realize it. But they’re all so flawed. It’s incredibly realistic. 

Who Should Read This One:

  • If you think real horror is what we do to each other, this is your kind of book. Packed with social commentary and yet terrifying, this one will please readers who like multilayered stories. 

My Rating: 5 Stars

  • I can’t ignore how much my brain will return to thinking about this book and these characters. 

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