Carrion Comfort by Dan Simmons
This book has been on my to be read list for a while. In fact, I picked it up during a sale and it has been sitting on my Kobo for about six months now. After finishing it this week I wish I had read it earlier. It is a really well written, highly researched novel with a depth that I don’t usually feel.
I have heard Dan Simmons himself says it’s about mind vampires. But that hardly scratches the surface of this immense book.
There are multiple characters with various points of view that branch off in different directions, but what ties them all together is the central plot. A small group of people that can control (‘use’ they say in the book) other peoples minds. Once done the used person is usually killed which gives a little life force/energy to the user. These mind vampires are wealthy, powerful people and tend to form cabals and work with each other.
The story starts by introducing the main protagonists. One of these is introduced when a group of these mind vampires turn on one another. A great chapter which has them using anyone within eyesight to help attack each other.
It is from the aftermath of this particular chapter that I gained respect for Dan Simmons as a writer. You truly feel the significance of each character. One is killed almost instantly, and his existing relationships branch out in a way that feels real. People don’t die in real life without leaving friends and family behind that miss them. Same in the fiction in Carrion Comfort.
From here the novel spans many years, including a very vivid account of the Holocaust during the second world war. Each character’s actions feel like a perfect progression for them knowing their background the way we do.
Another amazing thing about reading this novel was the amount of research and background that has gone into it. I was left feeling as a fellow writer at the amount of information and expertise that each character has in his/her field. I ha e completed this novel feel like I have learnt an important lesson about character development.
I recommend this novel to everyone that is a fan of fiction. It is horror, but the relationships and conflicts of the characters would not feel out of place in any genre.
If you are an aspiring writer I would also regiment you grab a copy of this book and read it carefully as it is an example of how to write an engaging, well-researched novel with realistic three-dimensional characters. James Patterson, maybe you should pick up a copy.
My Verdict : 4/5 – Recommended