I knew this wasn’t going to be an easy read when I became aware of Dunham’s own battle with cancer and how this book was written as a kind of metaphoric representation of his own struggles and journeys into the darkness. The cover art also paints a grim picture, but this is a very good book and one that any fan of horror fiction should take a look at.
‘Mercy’ is a brutally honest story that follows the misfortunes of Willie as he returns to Mercy hospital; a place where nightmares are very real and the staff are not quite what they seem. The hospital is a suffocating place, a miasma of death hanging heavy over its head and rising deep from within its bowels. The only beauty within this story comes from Dunham’s writing, which is often poetic, but never too much so. The narrative flows seamlessly, taking the reader through a series of dark corridors and unpleasant settings as Willie is probed, zapped and injected with all manner of instruments. Although only a short novel, it is quite exhausting to read and left this reader feeling drained at the end. Willie isn’t the most likable of characters. He’s made mistakes (haven’t we all?), though his constant torment and suffering provides you with an emotional attachment.
There are some truly vivid and unsettling settings within this book. Like Barker at his best, Dunham crates a world within the hospital that is full of imaginative and surreal horrors, evil machines, crazed beasts and insane staff. I couldn’t help but think about some of the scenes from Hellraiser II when reading this, and that’s a good thing as it is one of my favorite movies. ‘Mercy’ should be on every horror fans TBR. It is brave, bold and beautifully written and has enough darkness within its pages to keep you from turning off the lights.
Pick up a copy from here.