Saturday, January 11, 2014

Review: "The Other" by Thomas Tryon

The first book I read in 2014 was one I built up a little too much for myself. I had gotten my copy of Thomas Tryon’s The Other because of the afterword in it written by one of my favorite authors Dan Chaon. Knowing how he writes, I was excited to read a book in a similar style as how he writes. And from hearing about the reputation of the book, one being in the vain of Shirley Jackson, I was looking forward to it quite a bit, and made it my top reading list. But I’m quite disappointed in it. First off, it is very scary, I will give it that. The scenes of violence and dread are very well written, creating a dark, brooding atmosphere where a depraved act is just around the corner. But this somewhat swift novel is way over-stuffed with superfluous characters that detract from the relationship of the two twin brothers. This classic novel tells the story of Niles Perry, and the increasingly disturbing acts perpetrated by his twin brother Holland, in the town of Pequot Landing. They have just suffered through the violent, ambiguous death of their father and, with a neglectful mother, the two are free to roam as they please, and Niles is left to fend for himself as he tries to understand his sociopathic brother. As I said, the scary scenes are just that, with one involving an elderly neighbor and a magic trick being the highlight. But the adult characters just get in the way. It adds another, almost too mature dimension to the kid’s world, leaving them a little less alone than they should be in a story like this, and in turn makes the telling of the story less suspenseful. The twist I already knew about, but it is more than a bit creepy with the opening narration to each section. Just wish it could remain so in the confines of the two boys separate, isolated lives.
Rating: 3/5

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