"Glimpse" Book Review
Written by Tony Jones
Published by St. Martin's Press
Written by Jonathan Maberry
2018, 352 pages, Fiction
Released on 1st April, 2018
I’ve been a fan of Jonanthan Maberry for a good number of years and was delighted to hear of this new supernatural novel independent of the numerous series, collections, comics or YA projects this prolific author is often involved with. I enjoyed it so much, I comfortably rank it alongside his finest adult works, Patient Zero, Ghost Road Blues, or Dead of Night. This mind-bender of a novel cleverly combines unsettling horror with supernatural thriller and fully deserves to pick up a wider audience beyond his traditional horror readership.
The main character is Rain Thomas, who is a recovering drug addict living in Brooklyn with three years of hard earned sobriety under her belt. Her main group of friends are other addicts who support each other (‘the Cracked World Society’) and hang out in diners between Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings. Rain also has an on/off relationship with an aspiring artist who lives locally, but they both struggle with commitment. She comes from a rich family, but has a frosty and very distant relationship with her mother involving unresolved issues from her past crucial to the story. All in all, Rain is a bit of a mess, but she, supported by her little dog Bug who is her most trusted friend, is doing her best.
The novel opens with Rain preparing for a job interview and whilst on the train is given an old pair of cracked spectacles which, viewed through the crack, show a weird reality which has crucial differences to our own. She glimpses a vision of a child being chased by a man, which she instinctively connects to the deepest of her dark secrets; the fact that she gave up her new-born baby boy for adoption when she was sixteen. Combine her fragile mental health, addiction and guilt and you have a woman struggling with reality. Maberry does a superb job of twisting these conflicting factors into the damaged personality of Rain, and the pacing is truly superb, with the author taking his time in revealing where the intricate plot is heading. It really is a twister of a page-turning thriller which drives head-on into a dreamland of nightmares and the monsters which lurk there. But Rain is one tough girl, and you’ll be shouting for her from page one. This is one very cool book.
This novel had so many unsettling scenes and set pieces, I hardly know where to begin, coupled with a full range of spunky support characters, I really struggled to put this terrific book down. Reality and nightmares converge beautifully in Glimpse, which also has one of the finest villains I have come across an age; this dude ‘Doctor Nine’ is so nasty, most characters are too scared to even say his name. He’s so unpleasant, he would have most bog-standard bogeymen running for the hills with their tails between their legs and when the nightmares from dreams start seeping into the real-world, things go from bad to worse, then even worse.
The way in which the plot manipulates time is just so freakily smart. Near the opening of the novel, Rain turns up for her much needed interview, flustered but just about on time, the bemused receptionist tells her she’s a whole 24 hours late. Where did the day go? And of course, all her friends think she has slipped from the NA wagon. Keep an eye on this time element of the novel, it’s a particularly clever aspect of the plot, right until the cracking ending.
As things go on you are perhaps reminded of other novels ranging from Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep, Joe Hill’s NOS4R2, or films and TV shows A Nightmare on Elm Street and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but that’s not a criticism; nobody knows the horror genre better than Jonathan Maberry. In his own very cool way he cross-pollinates great ideas and the result is a unique product which is 100% Maberry and 150% addictive.
There are many different themes thrown into the plot; guilt, memory loss, grief, pain and ultimately recovery. The drug side of the story is particularly convincing, and it makes Rain an engaging lead character, as she is just so damaged. She is no invincible killing machine like Maberry’s Joe Ledger and all the better for it, few of us have demons in our closet as big as this lady. But along the way she gets help from super cool "Monk" Addison ... a tough guy investigator who also has psychic abilities, now this dude could have walked straight out of a ‘Joe Ledger’ novel!
I really love Glimpse and am very happy to give it the five-star treatment. If you’ve never tried Maberry before, this is an excellent jumping in point, a perfect blend of supernatural horror and thriller packaged into a genuine page-turner which is hard to beat entertainment from start to finish.