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Addiction, Fire, and Prison Life - A Book Review of Fellside by M.R. Carey

May 8, 2016

Having read The Girl with All the Gifts, I was really excited to pick up the second book under Mike Carey’s new pen name. Mike Carey is very well-known in the comic book scene as the writer for the Vertigo comic book series Lucifer and 35 issues of Hellblazer (which was the basis for both the movie and television show Constantine).  He is the current ongoing writer for X-Men: Legacy and the Ultimate Fantastic Four for Marvel Comics.  These are just a few of his credentials in the world of comic books – he’s written fiction novels, as well.

Under the name M.R. Carey, he wrote the bestseller The Girl with All the Gifts, which you can find my review for here.

Fellside starts off in a hospital room, where Jess Moulson wakes up with no knowledge of who or where she is. She begins to slowly piece things together – there was a horrible fire, and she is accused of starting it. The fire caused the death of a child, her upstairs neighbor, Alex Beech. Jess has difficulty completely understanding what happened – but once she is told about Alex’s death, nothing stops her from taking the blame for it. At her trial, her testimony makes her out to be guilty. She is sentenced to prison at Fellside – a woman’s maximum security prison out in the Yorkshire moors. Even told how horrible it is, she believes that it where she is meant to be.

Jess also decides to end her life the only way left to her, by not eating. The prison officials decide it is in their best interest to allow her to die as she sees fit; her high profile case is causing a big stir at the prison, and being a child murderer puts her at risk for violence inside. But, something in the prison doesn’t want her to die – and that something turns out to be the ghost of Alex Beech.

Jess decides that she is going to do right by Alex, and attempt to find out the truth about Alex’s murder. The book is about the dynamics of the prison, loss, and control.

When I picked up this book, I wasn’t sure what I was expecting. I don’t typically go for ghost stories – but since his other novel was so good, I thought I would give it a try. Fellside definitely was a pleasant surprise. The tone of the novel, the writing, and the building of the world inside the prison are all very intriguing. In my opinion, very few of the characters were really likeable – instead, they were fallibly human. One thing that I enjoyed was that the main character makes mistakes and does her best to atone for them and stick to her new path of good, even though another character is attempting to use her as a drug mule. She puts her life at terrible risk – and she makes it very much worth it, in the end.

This is definitely not what I would call a light read, it has some very heavy themes of drug use, prison violence, and abuse. However, if you are interested in a ghost story with a twist, this is definitely one to read!