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“Voices” by Clarissa Johal – Book Review

Voices

by Clarissa Johal

“Sometimes the voices of your past… are real.”

Synopsis

VOICES CoverMoria Flynn has been sent to a mental hospital for treatment after she attacked a Jehovah’s Witness – because one of the voices in her head made her do it. But, those voices aren’t in her head, they are the voices of restless spirits that have latched onto her. One of these spirits is determined to torment and punish Moira, and he is growing stronger. She doesn’t have to take him on alone though, because she has found some invaluable allies in the mental hospital. Her psychiatrist, Dr. Cassano, who is an observant enough man to realize that her symptoms don’t match up with those of a schizophrenic. And a fellow patient, Adam, who is also plagued by visions of spirits.

Thoughts

First off, there are a few things about this book that had me attracted to it from the get-go. I’m obsessed with mental hospitals, particularly poorly run ones. This is due to a morbid curiosity that was sparked at an early age, possibly by reading One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest waaaay earlier than is recommended. Also, there’s just something about the concept of insanity, dreams, and creativity that intrigues me.  One is not so far from another and when they all blend together the mind walks a dangerous line between them all. So you’ve got a mental hospital, a fragile but likable character in Moira, with ghosts lurking around. That adds up to me being on board from page 1.

Now, even though there are ghosts involved, the haunting aspects aren’t as frequent as I would have liked, but there were some delightfully chilling scenes wrapped into the story. The moments where we get to see through Adam’s eyes at the mangled spirits that come after him, those were the best moments horror-wise.  With Moira’s interaction with the two spirits attached to her it was a very different story. It is here that this book falls more into the realm of psychological suspense rather than paranormal.  One of the spirits is an incredibly angry thing that is dead set on taking his fury out on Moira. There are many unsettling interactions between Moira and her malignant spirit. But rather than these interactions feeling like a traditional ghost story, they felt more like a narrative about an abusive relationship.This entity forces Moira to isolate herself and live in a constant state of fear because of the mental and physical abuse this spirit is laying on her. She becomes so small and fragile during this story, that she ends up seeking out a “knight in shining armor” to help protect her. Or rather, a psychic in flowing hospital gowns. Eh, close enough. Her need to seek out a protector was a little too meek for my tastes in a heroine but the way the story ended really turned that around.

I really enjoyed the development of the secondary characters, Dr Cassano and Adam. They both were so interesting and engaging that I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t more development in their character arcs. I wanted to see more of their lives and what their experience was like. Apart from that, I really enjoyed the characters and the world that was created.

Verdict

Voices is a solid 4 out of 5 blood spattered stars. I really enjoyed the character arc of Moira and how this story seemed to explore the damage of abusive relationships without being too literal, but it would have been knocked out of the park if it had just a touch more development in Dr. Cassano and Adam.

If you enjoy ghosts, mental institutions, sexy but crazy psychics and a story focused on the female narrative, then I think you will enjoy this book.

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Recently I reviewed Clarissa’s book Struck which I thought was incredible. Here is the blog post on that, and the video review.

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