“Nothing goes on forever. If it did, there wouldn’t be anything else, would there…”
I’m currently reading Infinite Jest, one of the longest books ever written. I may have mentioned this before and I will probably mention it again as it is looking like it might take me the good part of a decade to finish it. As a special treat I have taken to reading another book alongside David Foster Wallace’s masterpiece in order to cleanse the literary pallette. Unfortunately, this means that I have read all of Fellside whilst simultaneously only reading about 5 pages of Infinite Jest…
Fellside is a gritty, prison drama with a supernatural edge that gradually unwinds and builds up to a barnstorming ending. Jess Moulson is a junkie in an abusive relationship who is involved in a tragic accident. After being incarcerated for her troubles she uncovers a grisly underworld hiding in plain sight.
The prison genre is so ubiquitous and familiar that it is almost impossible to write within it, without succumbing to cliche and genre trappings. Author MR Carey manages to avoid this pitfall with some characters, but dives headlong into unoriginality with others. Moulson herself is a complex personality and it is her relationship with her demons that defines the book. The antagonists are less effective however, screw Dennis Devlin could have strolled straight from trashy ITV drama Bad Girls and his minions are even less fully realised.
Carey’s earlier book The Girl With All The Gifts was a stunning, sci fi thriller that combined a chilling dystopian world with unforgettable characterisation. While Fellside never really threatens to compete with that book, it is a nice, easy read and I was genuinely interested to find out what would happen to Moulson as the story developed.
Fellside is unchallenging, emotionally charged and rarely dull. Not something I would ever read again but perfect for a long train journey or a holiday.