Disturbing from the very first page
About the Book
“Fever Dream” plays out as a dialogue in an Argentinian medical clinic between a woman named Amanda and a child named David. David is not her child. She is not his mother. Yet, he acts as her guide and prompt as she recounts the events of the past few days that led to her hospitalization.
David’s mother is Carla, a neighbor of Amanda while she stayed in her vacation home in the countryside. “Fever Dream” is Amanda’s recollections of her dealings with Carla, as well as the story Carla shares with her. The story explains why she can’t say she loves her son David. It explains his creepy-vibe throughout the book. And it ultimately explains why he’s in the clinic with Amanda.
“Fever Dream” by Samanta Schweblin was disturbing from the very first page, although I could never put my finger on exactly why. In the beginning, David tells Amanda she must get to the important part of her story. He talks about worms in the body. She must get to the part of the story with the worms. That’s the important part.
Worms alone may not be so disturbing. However, with David’s dialogue in italics rather than quotes, along with the way reminds Amanda that her time is running out, it feels like David might be a ghost rather than a young boy. The way he was described with red eyes and blotches on his skin, he could have been a demon. Add to that the way he guided Amanda as she spoke, it felt like he was nudging her toward the horror. In a way, he was. He gave me the heebie jeebies as much as the story itself.
The feeling of dread was so strong that I turned on all the lights, made sure the doors were locked, and jumped out of my skin at the slightest sound. I don’t know that I ever completely figured out everything that was going on, but do we ever understand the creepy or surreal? Perhaps if we did, they would lose those effects. It’s those effects that make for a good horror story.
That said, underneath the horror of “Fever Dream”, a few themes were clear. First, the bond between a mother and child and a mother’s continual need and instinct to keep her child safe. But sadly, no matter how vigilant you are about anything in life, bad things are going to happen. In this story, it was poisoning from pesticides.
At 168 pages, “Fever Dream” is a quick yet frightening read. It’s best read in one sitting — especially if you want to feel a little paranoid and disturbed. I had to take a few breaks, but that’s not a poor reflection on the book. Quite the opposite. I’m just a chicken! I finished the book two days ago. I still can’t get it out of my head.
Read More Reviews, Find More Great Books
Type in your email addy below, then hit the Subscribe button to get the latest reviews from Book Rant dropped straight in your inbox. Think of it this way. It’s just one email every once in a while — and you may just find your new favorite book to read!