WE SPREAD follows Penny, an older woman who following a bad fall in her home, is urged into an assisted living facility by her landlord; a plan previously devised by Penny’s deceased partner. Upon arrival, Penny is shocked to find that in such a big property, the residents are limited to herself and just three others. While it isn’t long until Penny begins to distrust the care home’s staff and her surroundings, is this to be blamed on their suspicious and secretive behavior or is Penny slowly losing her grip on reality?
Iain Reid does it again! I am a big, big fan of his work as I consider his prior novels, I’M THINKING OF ENDING THINGS and FOE to be two of the better psychological thrillers I’ve read in the last five or so years. WE SPREAD showcases an author who is clearly comfortable playing inside the endless sandbox of the human mind while easily meeting the increasing expectations of his audience.
I absolutely love unreliable narrators, but it’s an incredibly hard storytelling device to pull off. As an author, if you’re going to intentionally leave your reader in the dark throughout the bulk of the novel, you better have a compelling plot to keep them interested. Not only was I glued to the page, the style and structure of the book itself had me flying through in only a few sittings. Given that I believe the goal of the book is to have the reader draw their own conclusions surrounding Penny’s aptitude, WE SPREAD can either be a horror novel in the very literal sense that everything Penny suspects that is happening is truly occuring or you can find the terror of losing one’s mind to be equally terrifying. Either way you see it, this one will stick with you long after you put it down.
WE SPREAD will easily find a spot on my year-end list next month and this is one I can’t possibly recommend enough. If you like this and are new to Reid, please go back and check out his other work. You will not be disappointed.