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Home by Rebekah Lattin-Rawstrone

Steve’s wife, Fran, is dying. In her wisdom Fran suggests that Steve take a job as caretaker at the local care home, where he can forget his heartache in hard work. Alexa, the hard-edged manager, makes it clear that the caretaker must on no account enter the basement, and at first Steve keeps his head down and quietly goes about his duties. But as Fran’s condition worsens and his relationship with his only son becomes more distant, Steve begins to uncover dark secrets at his workplace. As Steve grows closer to Milos, the young male nurse, he makes a shocking discovery that he cannot put out of his mind. It inspires him to play detective – with disastrous consequences.

Home is a dark, suspenseful yet moving story that poses important questions about how we deal with the old and what it means to be forgotten.

If you’re lucky, you are going to live a long enough life that you’ll reach a ripe old age. When you get there, the only thing you can hope for is that during your twilight years you are treated with a level of respect and a certain amount of dignity. There is a chance however, that when you grow old you’ll find yourself alone and forgotten. Home makes the reader confront this uncomfortable possibility.

Steve needs something to fill the void in his existence. His wife Fran is gone and he feels adrift in his own life. Keeping busy seems like the perfect way to ignore the gaping maw of loneliness. Working as a caretaker in a quiet care home seems like it might be the perfect fit. It’s not long however before Steve realises that something is off. There is something not quite right and he can’t put his finger on what it is. Like a dog with a bone, Steve refuses to let his nagging doubts go. He is driven to discover exactly what is going on.

Milo the nurse views the care home residents in a very dispassionate and objective manner. He has pretensions to be a famous photographer, and from his perspective, his work at the home is the perfect place to indulge his creative passion. Milo has a young family back in his home country and is prepared to do whatever it takes to provide for them.

Elsewhere in the building, an unnamed woman lies in her bed. Unable to move or speak she reflects on her isolated existence. She ponders what is left of her life and watches the comings and goings of those around her. Her entire world is comprised of what she can see for her bed and the snippets of conversation she can overhear. This strand of the narrative may actually be the most chilling. A character trapped within themselves unable to communicate with anyone else except in the most basic manner.

Where this novel really excels is watching how these people interact with one another. As the plot builds towards some shocking revelations, the characters weave in and out of one another’s lives creating a narrative that feels entirely convincing. This could be any care home, anywhere.  I’ve mentioned this with other titles I’ve read in the past. For me, the horror that works best is the horror that is most real. There is nothing fantastical about the events in this novel. It’s sad to think that the story that plays out in Home could be something you hear about on the news. The realisation that people could treat others in both saddening and shocking in equal measure.  

There is a line in the novel I spotted that I think perfectly sums up its entire premise

If no one cares, then you are already dead.

Home is a genuinely emotive experience, at one moment harrowing and in the next heartbreakingly sad.  I don’t think I can really say that I enjoyed Home, it’s just not that kind of book. Please don’t misunderstand however, it is utterly absorbing stuff. The issues this novel explores are certainly thought provoking and prompted some serious introspection. I need to go and read something more upbeat now, probably something zombie related. This one is going to stay with me for a while.

If you’re looking for well-crafted fiction that is going to make you think, then look no further. Home is published by Red Button Publishing and is available now.

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