Remains by Andrew Cull
Publisher: IFWG Publishing International | Release Date: Sept. 16, 2019 | Pages: 214
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Andrew Cull’s novel is not to be trifled with. As a debut novel, this book reads like someone who has been penning long fiction for years. It is polished, engaging, and a great read. I was fortunate enough to read Cull’s collection, Bones, last year so I knew what to expect in terms of writing ability and imagery, or so I thought.
I had no idea.
The journey we take with Lucy Campbell covers levels of grief beyond anything in my experience. In the Foreword, Cull makes note that this tale is loosely based on a true story of San Francisco involving deaths, seances, possessions, and exorcisms. I was so wrapped up in Andrew’s fictional story that I neglected to remember this part until I looked back over my notes in preparation for this review. I do want to note that there are issues involving child death and suicide throughout, just as a heads up for anyone who might need it.
I like the way in which I had to constantly ask myself what was real and what was a product of Lucy Campbell’s grief, and the side characters play off of Lucy in a way that exacerbates the dread. 1428 Montgomery is a terrifying place either way, and I appreciate the power Cull gives to the reader. WE make up our own minds. There are most definitely two interpretations (or more) up for grabs here. The lines between the surreal and reality are blurred, mostly because of the perfectly crafted unreliable narrator we find in Lucy, and I found myself wrapped up mentally in the world he created. And sometimes in Lucy’s mind. THAT was terrifying.
The horror? Beyond the psychological, there are vivid, gory masterpieces that play out like a horror film on the page. I recently read Ketchum’s Off Season, and there is a scene in Remains that did the same job of unsettling my mind and making me squirm. It was GROSS. I loved it! Everything seems to be woven just right, and Remains will invade your brain, smash your emotions, and then dance on the pieces that are left.