Tuesday, 31 October 2017
The Visitors by Catherine Burns (Blog Tour)
The Visitors by Catherine Burns (Legend Press) is a creepy, disturbing and upsetting Gothic tale of our times.
Marion Zetland is a shy spinster in her fifties, who lives with her older brother. She sleeps surrounded by her teddies, and on the surface of it, has been victimised by her overbearing family. She has been cruelly taunted and bullied at school (the narrative shifts from the present to past, and back to the present). Everyone including her nearest neighbour takes advantage of her.
Marion lives a life of an amoeba, or even a parasite, who eats, sleeps and daydreams. Her life is void of meaning or purposes.
She is not entirely stupid, yet she has convinced herself to keep herself to herself and ignore her brother's secret activities in the cellar. By ignoring the horrors below she might pretend that nothing sinister is happening. She can lounge on the sofa, daydreaming, stuffing herself with cakes and biscuits and watching romantic films on TV non-stop.
Suddenly, her brother John has a heart attack and is admitted to the hospital. He asks Marion to go down the cellar steps and care for his visitors.
Marion can no longer pretend that evil does not dwell in their house.
It is a very sinister read, which poses moral questions about how easily a victim might become a perpetrator, and whether we are born evil or made evil.
It also made me think about my own past. Years ago, when the Soviet Union collapsed, I was a University student, and pretty naive at that too. All of a sudden it felt like the whole world has open its doors, you just need to stretch your arm and grab your chance. The newspapers were full of ads of possible jobs abroad, via some unknown freshly-created agencies.
I was quite taken by an idea of working as a nanny in Great Britain, imagining myself a kind of a new Mary Poppins. I loved working with children, and thought it would have been perfect. Thanks goodness, I never did apply.
Many of those naive Russian (and Eastern European) girls ended up trafficked into prostitution and slavery, some managed to escape, some disappeared without any trace.
Without giving too much information, there are some gruesome disturbing scenes that will haunt you for a long time.
The book is very clever, as it explores the depth of evil, when a seemingly harmless victim turns out to be pure evil.
Disclosure: I received an e-copy of the book for the purposes of reviewing. All opinions are my own.