Written by: Drake Morgan
Never judge a book by it’s cover as the old saying goes. It is never more true than for Rena Mason’s debut novel The Evolutionist. A woman in a tight dress holding a bloody axe. Oh boy and oh dear. By the end of the first chapter, the cover was long forgotten and I was hooked.
Stacy Troy is just a woman living a normal, non-adventurous life in the suburbs of Las Vegas. She’s not a remarkable, superhero kind of woman. When she begins having horrific nightmares, she approaches them as any average, normal person would. At first passing them off, she sees a doctor when they start affecting her waking hours from lack of sleep. Step two is of course the psychiatrist. Dr. Light is no normal psychiatrist however. Soon Stacy is plunged into a bizarre, macabre world where nothing is as it seems and nothing will ever be the same again.
Mason’s use of the first person narrative works well here as we bob along in Stacy’s confusion and irritation at the disruptions in her life. She’s pissed that she can’t sleep. We feel her increasing sense of panic and finally, the slide into oblivion as her world crumbles. The emotional roller coaster is intense and Mason skillfully keeps us just on the edge of Stacy’s fear. There’s violence, but it’s never overdone and serves to add to the morbidity of the situation quite well. Stacy’s a character we understand and Mason definitely makes us feel that we too could wake up from a screaming nightmare to find our world shattered one fine day.
Far more supernatural than gore horror, The Evolutionist is a fascinating look into that delicate balance between the sleeping world of nightmares and the waking world of harsh reality. She forces us to examine the frightening possibility of that paper-thin wall crumbling down and the horrific consequences when these two separate planes slowly merge. Very disturbing indeed.
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