Sammie Kurty (author/contributor), signing in! Today, I’m here to review writer Brian Kirk’s debut novel We Are Monsters. Brian’s agent, Melanie Meadors, contacted Fiction Reboot and asked if we would review Brian’s work before it hit the shelves. Here’s an inside cover synopsis:
“The Apocalypse has come to the Sugar Hill mental asylum.
Luckily he’s in good hands. Dr. Eli Alpert has a talent for healing tortured souls. And his protégé is working on a cure for schizophrenia, a drug that returns patients to their former selves. But unforeseen side effects are starting to emerge. Forcing prior traumas to the surface. Setting inner demons free.
Monsters have been unleashed inside the Sugar Hill mental asylum. They don’t have fangs or claws. They look just like you or me.”
About Brian Kirk:
I’m a writer of dark fiction. My stories have appeared in several magazines and anthologies. And my debut novel, WE ARE MONSTERS, was released in 2015. Feel free to contact me to discuss a current project, or just to chat. Don’t worry, I only kill my characters.
REBOOT Review: (By Sammie Kurty)
We Are Monsters is a well-packed book, concluding in just under 1,000 e-reader pages. The novel is filled with extensive detail, well rounded, colorful characters, and enough medical jargon to make me believe I am reading about real life psychiatrists. At first, We Are Monsters may seem to be your average hospital drama, but do not be fooled! The finale makes a thrilling climatic turn (However, I don’t want to give out any spoilers!), showing just how horrifying the human mind can be.
The narrative follows the lives of Dr. Eli Alpert, the head psychiatrist at Sugar Hill Mental Asylum and Dr. Alex Drexler, Eli’s second in command. Alex is an up and coming talent in the mental health world, testing a new drug that could change the world of medicine forever. Eli, on the other hand, prefers to practice natural and meditative techniques for treating mental illness. For the first two-thirds of the book, we learn about Alex and Eli’s back stories, providing explanation towards their actions as “all hell breaks loose” in the asylum. The novel emphasizes the two doctors’ moral struggles, questioning how they should treat the mentally ill: like normal people? Like children that need to be watched? Or like specimens used to improve our world?
While I enjoyed most of We Our Monsters, I have some qualms with the novel. While I understand the importance of setting up the characters’ back stories, the novel does have a slow start. There are multiple characters introduced and fair amount of escalating drama in the asylum, but I was left confused and unsure of the central plot line. Second, the story takes a sharp 180 degree turn by the third part of the novel. Although the conflict that takes place (again, no spoilers) is later explained by rational psychology, the characters encounter an event that seems supernatural. They risk their lives and sanity to save the hospital, learn to understand the importance of teamwork, and learn the consequences of not coping with your past “demons”. At this point in my reading, it felt as if I was reading a completely different book, but with the same characters. After I finished the novel, I flipped through the chapters again. I noted a few small foreshadowing scenes hinting towards the conflict, but all in all, I never expected outcome anything like the ending of We Are Monsters. After reading a realistic fiction piece for 800 pages, it left me confused.
Having said that, third part is my favorite. The characters come full circle in their journeys and learn to humanize the mentally ill, showing that even those deemed “normal” can be haunted and traumatized. And, I’ll admit, I have a bias for thrillers.
All in all, Brian Kirk threw a powerful first punch with We Are Monsters. I’m looking forward to reading Brian’s future work. Let’s see what creepy things he can come up with next!
We Are Monsters was released through Samhain Publishing on July 7, 2015. You can pick up a copy at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iTunes, and Samhain Publishing.
About the Contributor:
Sammie Kurty is an English major in her junior year at Wittenberg University and a contributor to Fiction Reboot. She is a proud member of Sigma Tau Delta, the International English Honors Society. Sammie has been passionate about writing all her life and is about to complete her first novel, Sapphire Lake, a project she has worked on for three years. When she isn’t writing or reading, you can find her practicing makeup artistry or riding roller coasters. Twitter: @Shamtakee