The Quickening by Julie Myerson book review.
You have to read right to the very end of ex- Guardian columnist Julie Myerson’s horror novella The Quickening before you can be certain it’s not great.
Like any compelling mystery, this sub- Rosemary’s Baby tale of pregnant and paranoid Rachel, honeymooning with her gregarious but selfish husband Dan on a luxury Caribbean island rife with secrets, keeps you guessing. Has Dan been to the island before, and why would he lie if he has? Is he trying to harm Rachel? What about the baby? Or is Rachel losing her mind? And who’s that strange ghostly figure wearing a suit on the beach?
While the answers to these questions are ultimately banal there’s something to be said for the ride. Eschewing speech punctuation, Myerson moves at quite a pace, throwing twists and cliffhangers at the reader hard and fast. Rachel and Dan may be insufferable and unconvincing as a couple, but you never lose the sense that there's a reason - that there’s something more going on.
There is, it’s just something clumsy and derivative, as the author lobs voodoo in with ghosts, and a revenge tale with a relationship melodrama, none of which truly stand up to scrutiny.
The Quickening comes from the publishing imprint of Hammer and is a story which would have sat nicely as a segment in TV horror anthology Hammer House Of Horror – entertaining, if throwaway, delivered over 50 minutes. As a novel it’s too trite and slight to satisfy.
Rosie Fletcher twitter.com/TotalFilm_Rosie