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Tuesday, 11 September 2012

The Possessions Of Doctor Forrest by Richard T. Kelly (RIP VII)

Since starting this blog I haven't participated in any challenges, readalongs or events. But over the past couple of weeks I have spotted this icon on several of my favourite blogs and felt really keen to take part in the RIP VII event:

Readers Imbibing Peril is a two-month event that celebrates all things scary, spooky, ghastly, unsettling, whatever you want to call it. It's hosted by Carl and there are several different ways to participate. I've chosen to go for Peril The First, which means I will strive to read at least 4 novels over the next two months from the following categories:

Dark Fantasy.
Or anything sufficiently moody that shares a kinship with the above.

This should hopefully be easily do-able, as I've already read a few that fit the description on my holiday last week and have plenty more on the TBR!

So without further ado, let's look at the first of my choices - maybe not the most suitable novel I could have thrown into my suitcase to read on the beach, but certainly one that fits well within the RIP VII parameters.

Three Scottish doctors - Grey Lochran, Robert Forrest and Steven Hartford - have been friends since their medical school days. As they have grown into middle-age they have grown somewhat apart and practice in very varied fields, but still keep in regular contact. When Dr Forrest suddenly disappears without a trace, his old colleagues are baffled and the police are unable to turn up a single lead. And although Robert is no longer around, his friends continue to feel echoes of his presence in everything they do. Old secrets are unearthed and it becomes certain that there is something sinister afoot.

The first thing that struck me about this novel is that the title is an odd one - Dr Forrest's possessions did not seem to me to play a vital role in the tale. Never mind the fact that Grey and Robert are both surgeons, so surely he would be a Mr Forrest and not a Dr? But when I stopped nit-picking and got over these essentially unimportant quibbles of mine, I enjoyed this mystery with its strong Gothic influences.

The story is told through diary entries and letters from the points of view of several characters, with a final chapter from Dr Forrest revealing all. This was a really effective plot device when it came to letting the reader know about certain secrets and keeping particular characters out of the loop, but it was a shame that none of the characters' voices was particularly distinctive. Kelly clearly draws on some Gothic classics for inspiration but does so very well. Suspense builds slowly throughout and I was left with a strong sense of unease when it came to the finale, with no idea what was going on.The ending is surprising if a little drawn out - the whole story is essentially re-told from Forrest's point of view and I became quite impatient for it to finish, although really I can't think of another way that Kelly could have done this and still managed to tie up all the loose ends and explain everything properly.

This is a really solid tale of horror and suspense and if you are in the mood for something spooky (perhaps thinking of joining in with RIP VII?) then I'd definitely give it a go. Although perhaps it's one to curl up with in front of the fire, with rain battering the window and a mug of hot chocolate on your knee, rather than lying on a beach in the sunshine as I did!


  1. I'm glad you decided to join us! Welcome! I hope you have a lot of fun over the course of the event.

    Had to smile about the beach read. Just proves that with a good book you can get into the RIP spirit anywhere. I've certainly done so over these past few weeks despite very hot and sunny days. But today it is chilly and rainy and I wish so much that I could stay home and curl up with something suitably creepy.

  2. I think I've seen this title in a few places and have been curious ever since. Good to know it's a very creepy horror. I've realised that I do need to read at night if I truly want to be scared!