Jess Moulson is convicted of murder. But it’s a murder she can’t remember committing.
Nothing is quite clear from the drug-fuelled night when a blaze set in her apartment killed the little boy upstairs. But when the media brands Jess a child killer, she starts to believe it herself.
Now she’s on her way to Fellside, the biggest, most formidable women’s prison in Europe, standing in the bleak Yorkshire moors.
But Jess won’t be alone in her prison cell. Lurking in the shadows is an unexpected visitor… the ghost of the ten-year-old boy she killed. He says he needs her help – and he won’t take no for an answer.
FELLSIDE is a powerful, thought-provoking and heart-wrenching new standalone novel by M. R. Carey. (Goodreads)
Before starting this book, I had read a number of reviews saying that Fellside wasn’t as good as Carey’s previous book, The Girl With All The Gifts. Fortunately for me, his previous book is still sitting on my TBR. (I’m sorry, I know I need to read this ASAP). So, I went into this with no pre-conception on what to expect… And honestly, I believe going into this book with an open mind and no preconceptions is the best way to go. Fellside demonstrates an author’s ability to take you down one path, only to take a sharp turn and make you question everything you read.
Writing this review is going to be difficult, because I don’t want to spoil anything about it. What I can say is that the plot of the book, moves along at decent pace and Carey quickly establishes an emotional link between the main character, Jess, and the reader. You want Jess to find a way to help the ghost of the ten year old boy she killed move on. The main obstacle to this is not only the fact she is in a high security prison, but also the self-loathing that Jess feels in being responsible for the little boy’s death.
The mystery behind why the little boy haunts Jess is very much a background plot point, ticking away just off screen with little morsels to keep you interested. The going’s on within Fellside, between the inmates and staff take center stage. You are given a ring side view of the power struggles, double dealings and plays for power between the inmates. The business of dealing drugs is huge and making sure you are the supplier for the other wings, is a high priority. The top dog in the wing that Jess is in is run by Grace and you see how far her influence reaches, since she had the head Prison Officer under her thumb. The goings on within the Prison seems right out of the TV Show Orange is The New Black and Carey isn’t scared to not hold back. The brutality of some of the actions, rivals Game of Thrones and more than once I found myself wincing at what was happening on the page. Yet, still I kept reading on wanting to see how it all fit together and more importantly, who would come out at the other side alive.
The final act of the book had me on the edge of my seat and as the piece fell into place, I was left stunned and gobsmacked. I had to re-calibrate everything I had assumed about the book up to that point. Yes, there were parts I had suspicions about very early on, but as it all came together I was kicking myself at not seeing the signs that were sprinkled throughout the book.
Fellside makes me think that Carey put Orange is The New Black, The Green Mile and The Sixth Sense into a blender and out popped this brilliant mystery/thiller/supernatural ghost story. This is just a brilliant book, with a cast of so many different characters, all who are varying shades of grey. Regardless, I still found myself rooting for Jess to get the outcome that she desired.
Finishing Fellside has made me push The Girl With All The Gifts, because it is clear that Carey has a knack for keeping his readers on their toes by pulling the rug from under them. Though this review is limited in details, its best to go into the book with as little details as possible because when you do, it’s well worth it.
OTHER BOOKS BY M. R. CAREY
The Girl With All The Gifts