Good evening, bookworm, do come in. Here, let me take your coat so the cats don’t lie on it and you get comfortable by the fire. Do you like the new forest green colour on the chimney breast? I had to go for a dark colour thanks to the dragons getting a little over-excited when they tried stealing coal from the fire. It got rather heated and the soot was a nightmare to clean off the walls. If you look closely you can just about see an outline of a scorch mark beneath the many coats of paint. It makes me think of a young sapling when I see it, a little like an ink blot test!
Speaking of young, have you heard of a book called Heather by G.C. McKay? You’ll need something sweet to get through this so here’s some sticky toffee pudding and custard to enjoy while I tell you all about it.
Let’s start with the blurb:
14 Reasons Why You Should Get With
H. You’ve never known anyone who makes you feel the way she does
E. She’s drop dead gorgeous, and you met her inside a bookstore
A. The clothes she wears are all inadvertent cosplay outfits
T. She can keep secrets (?)
H. She won’t hit the wall for decades
E. She’s never mentioned anything about being a feminist
R. She looks at you the same way you do her
L. You’ve never heard her talk about her dietary preferences
O. When you’re with her the world is more vibrant, more… colourful
R. She somehow makes dungarees look good
A. She’s the only girl you’ve ever truly wanted to protect
L. Since you have no children, with her, you get to play Daddy
I. She’ll remain fertile for decades
E. She hasn’t ploughed her way through more pipe than Andy Dufresne
1 Reason You Should NOT Get With
14. Making you, 21 years her senior.
You’re 35, Michael. 35.
Heather is 14.
Heather Loralie is fourteen years old.
Now here’s a little about the author:
G.C. McKay is a writer with a Masters degree in existentially-induced nihilism, a PhD in gazing long enough into the abyss until it gazes back and a Perfect Attendance Certificate in all drinks containing alcohol, including mouthwash. He enjoys doing an impression of himself whilst reviewing books that’ll knock your balls off on his YouTube channel: youtube.com/gcmckay
Deriving the majority of his material from the dank, debauched wet spots of his ever-questionable memory, you’ll find his characters trapped inside a world similar to the one you inhabit; a place where promises are only made to be broken, betrayal is rife and often encouraged and identities crumble and wither under the irresistible appeal of salacious self-destruction. For fans of Dark Literary and Transgressive Fiction, Psychological Horror, Satire and Black Humour.
And here’s my review: Well.
It’s not often I’m lost for words but I’m struggling to gather my thoughts on this one and feel like I’m herding cats around the alleys of my brain to capture them for you.
The novel is exactly as described on the tin. A 35 year old man begins an illicit relationship with a 14 year old girl. This may be enough to instantly put some people off the book but I was intrigued, especially as there was a scandal at my high school involving a teenage girl and a man more than twice her age.
I wasn’t prepared for the dark, twisted rabbit hole I fell down as I was exposed to the narrator’s every twisted thought, sexual urge and experience with Heather. Michael works as a barista in a bookshop cafe, the location of their fateful meeting. He’s surrounded by Gen Z and woke millennial colleagues who belong to the digital world which he shuns. He’s bored, an outsider and his life is bleak. Then in walks Heather with her parents.
My daughter is 13 and I found Michael’s fantasies about Heather’s young body utterly repulsive. Yet a little like that “I can’t not look” sensation of a car crash, I felt compelled to continue. After all, it couldn’t get more graphic than that, surely. Oh my dear bookworm, it did.
The novel progresses from Michael’s fantasy to reality, and repulsive acts move to outright debauchery. I felt sick to the stomach reading a scene in a park involving a younger witness and willed them to be caught.
As much as I loathed Michael’s paedophilic awakening, Heather chilled me to the core. At once a child and a seductress, a victim and a psychopath, this conflicted and deadly character made me continue reading to the bitter end. I hoped for resolution, for it all to stop. I should have guessed the ending wouldn’t leave me feeling happy and warm. There are no cute kittens or happiness in this story, bookworm.
There are other characters too who feature on the periphery of Michael and Heather’s infatuation and lust. They’re all subjected to Michael’s scathing judgements and Heather’s manipulation and I didn’t find them particularly likeable either.
This is one of the most disturbing, sexually graphic, vile books I have ever read. And yet I have to give the author credit for the quality of his characterisation. Few writers would dare take on this subject matter unless it’s perhaps a dark crime thriller where the protagonist is a haunted detective who will ultimately make the perpetrator pay. I couldn’t relate to the characters but I felt a dark fascination for them that I can’t quite explain.
Would I recommend it? Not to my friends, I wouldn’t put them through that. But for those who enjoy the extreme discomfort of the darkest literary and transgressive fiction imaginable, I think they’ll love this.
I’m going to give it 4 stars because whilst I would happily never read a novel like this again, I can see the author’s skill in creating his characters and plot. Thanks to the author and Book Sirens for the digital copy of this book in return for my honest opinion.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to cuddle my cats and find pictures of cute kittens on the web to try and shake the dark images from Heather out of my mind. Until next time bookworm, farewell!