The Schism by Robert Dickinson
Patrick Farrell’s life is complex, but under control. His work takes him through the streets of South London, repossessing credit cards and searching for missing debtors. And in the evenings he visits his schizophrenic brother, Mike, who stares out of his hospital room window, convinced he’s being watched.
But when Patrick’s girlfriend introduces him to a new crowd with a strange interest in astrology and the occult, his world is thrown dramatically out of kilter.
This is a tricky review for me to write, if I’m being honest I didn’t enjoy this novel. I tried to, I really did, but I just didn’t get anything from it.
There were some things that I did like. The relationship between Patrick and his brother Mike came across well. The scenes where the brothers interact, or in some cases don’t, were actually pretty good. Sadly, none of the others characters felt anywhere as real to me. I like to feel something for the characters I read about, doesn’t matter if that feeling is negative or positive, but in this instance I didn’t connect.
The writing is absolutely fine but I wish that the plot had been just a little bit darker. I appreciate that the author has tried to leave things as open ended as possible so that any reader can draw their own conclusions. That’s fine, I’ve read books like that in the past, but in this case things felt fuzzy and ill defined.
There is a running joke in the book where various characters say everything is ok when in actual fact they mean that things are far from it. The further I got into the story, the more I felt like responding that way about the book. It’s ok, it’s just not great.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some interesting ideas going on here and I liked the initial premise, but I think I was looking for something a bit more overt when it comes to the supernatural elements. There is a suggestion something otherworldly may be occurring but it’s not explored in any great depth. The idea of paranormal powers are skirted around on a number of occasions, but no definitive answer is ever reached. This kinda felt like the author didn’t want to commit either way.
I mentioned earlier that I didn’t like the novel, and though that’s true, I didn’t really hate the novel either. I sort of felt like I was watching a film that hadn’t really won me over. I persevered with it, hoping that things would improve, but sadly it wasn’t to be.
In conclusion, this book really wasn’t for me. It’s rare that I find myself in this situation but the law of averages means it was bound to happen eventually. In an effort to be as even-handed as possible I would direct you to the following review that offers a differing opinion. Pam appears to have had a far better/more positive experience with the novel than I did.
The Schism is published by Myriad Editions and is available now.