Winner Of The 2018 Millennium Book Award
HENRY: A Polish Swimmer's True Story of Friendship from Auschwitz to America
by Karina Shawver
Thirteen-year-old Griffin Rinaldi seems like a normal kid. He plays basketball at the Y and he’s just learning to talk to girls. But Griffin doesn’t feel normal. He’s been diagnosed with Depersonalization Disorder, he feels disconnected from his body, and at times, he doesn’t know if he’s dead or alive. And it seems to be getting worse.
Following the brutal death of his abusive father, Griffin is haunted by a red-haired kid only he can see and who wants him to do things he doesn’t understand. Griffin's only sources of support are his grandfather, Soren - a regional author of Outer Banks ghost stories - and his same-aged cousin, Tanner, a boy coping with his own troubled life.
When a rare blizzard strikes the Outer Banks, Griffin recognizes the red-haired boy as a vengeful specter from Soren's tales. To make matters worse, his well-meaning aunt has convinced his mother he’s under some sort of spiritual attack. Unsure if the mysterious boy is a symptom of his disorder or an entity with evil intent, Griffin finds himself in a struggle to save his life, his sanity and maybe his very soul.
With so much distractingly poor and imitative paranormal kitsch making its way into publication it’s always uplifting to come across something a little different. Working well on a tonal and stylistic level, The Disembodied from Anthony Hains is one for readers who appreciate originality – something which is fast becoming a rarity in this genre. A novel that dallies in the supernatural must establish clear metaphysical rules as its acceptability depends on its coherence and Hains proves particularly adept at creating them. Ably maintaining narrative tension through the little things that happen, as opposed to relying on shock value. Imaginative and refreshingly devoid of the triter genre tropes, his prose have a certain lightness to them whilst his characters are far from stereotypical. Being both cleverly conceptualised and vividly rendered. No less than with Griffin, who has a calm sneaky self-confidence and whose curiosity firmly establishes momentum as Hains takes us down an intriguingly disturbing path.
For avid fans of the genre, The Disembodied has much to commend it. With a prevailing sense of menace throughout, it's definitely one to be read with the lights on and is strongly recommended.
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