You Don’t Belong Here by Tim Major
Daniel Faint is on the run with a stolen time machine. As the house-sitter of a remote Cumbrian mansion, he hopes to hide and experiment with the machine. But is the Manor being watched by locals, his twin brother or himself from the future? Daniel is terrified about what the future may hold but, as he discovers, there can be no going back.
If you were given the opportunity to escape all your past mistakes would you seriously be able to resist? You could start afresh, with a new life, and a clean slate. The only tiny stumbling block? A time machine that you don’t really understand how to control. I ask you, what could possibly go wrong?
Daniel Faint is an intriguing character. You very quickly realise he is barely holding his life together. He has dug himself into a hole and you can almost guarantee that each action he takes is going to be the wrong one, and only ends up making things worse. Watching him come apart at the seams is captivating stuff. I quickly found myself pitying him. I genuinely believe Daniel is not an evil person but each choice he makes takes him one step further down a dark road that has distinctly dire outcome on the horizon.
Most of the action takes place in an isolated manor house, and I couldn’t help but feel that this was exactly the wrong environment for Daniel to be in. Thinking about it though, I guess that is kind of the point. Daniel is left rattling about alone in this large building most of the time, and this only adds additional stresses to his already fragile mental state. I ask you, have we learned nothing from the debacle at The Overlook Hotel? Caretaking a deserted spooky old empty building is always guaranteed to end badly!
I always worry a bit about any book that contains time travel as an element. Will the author be able to produce a compelling story that fits within the confines of the rules they have created? In the case of You Don’t Belong Here, the answer is an emphatic yes. Major’s interpretation of time travel is sneakily ingenious, but also devastatingly simple. Consider me suitably impressed.
Initially you may find You Don’t Belong Here a trifle confusing. I’ll be honest, I did a little. The plot drops you straight into the middle of Daniel’s more than complicated life. Once again though that is entirely the point. My advice is to persevere as everything will become clear in the fullness of time. Trust me, the ultimate payoff is entirely worth it. In the final chapters Tim Major brings all the threads of the narrative together and there is a wonderful ‘Ah Ha’ moment. Suddenly, the full scope of what is going on is revealed.
You Don’t Belong Here is that perfect blend of cautionary tale, psychological horror and introspective character study. Tim Major does a great job of picking apart his protagonist and also keeping the reader on their toes. This is the sort of suspenseful writing I always enjoy. This story feels like it should sit somewhere between an episode of The Twilight Zone and Tales of the Unexpected. Highly recommended.
You Don’t Belong Here is published by Snowbooks and is available now.