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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Review - Frenzy by Carole Johnstone


Title: Frenzy

Author: Carole Johnstone

Publisher: Eternal Press

Buy Link: Buy Frenzy Here!

Rating: You Gotta Read

Reviewed By: Nerine Dorman


Caught between the Devil and the deep blue sea.

Eight men wake up to find themselves on a life raft in the middle of an ocean. They are stranded and alone, with no memory of how they got there, and no idea if help is coming.

But they are not completely alone. As hours become days, as water rations dwindle and tempers fray, there stirs a threat more deadly than either sharks or each other.

There is a shadow in the abyss beneath their feet. Watching. Waiting. Stalking eight men lost and adrift above the deepest trench in the world.


I'll come straight out and say it. Frenzy will not appeal to everyone but will certainly hit the right mark with readers who appreciate the kind of high-quality, cerebral horror offered by the likes of Stephen King. It's often in a crisis situation that the cracks begin to show in mankind's thin veneer of a civilization and Frenzy takes readers on this downward spiral.

While it is never made clear why these eight men are in this situation there are allusions to a Kafka-esque scenario, I gain the impression that all the men thrown into this drama carry some sort of culpability for a past transgression, be it through action or inaction.

Told from the point of view of Pete, this novella is not just an exploration of interpersonal relationships in the face of death, but also one man's inward-looking journey. Pete does not have any heroic qualities. He is an average Joe and perhaps that is his crime, for never having held definite standpoint in life. The irony now, of course, is that he is thrust into a life-and-death situation where his propensity for inaction further seals his doom.

I thought often of William Golding's The Lord of the Flies while reading Frenzy, which certainly paints an entirely different picture from the sometimes rosy survivor-style stories popularized in media. There is no comfortable outcome in Frenzy. Each character faces the inevitability of their situation above the trench, which perhaps can be seen as an allegory for our own human situation with regard to facing death. There is no escape. It lies in wait for all of us.

Overall, Johnstone delivers a slick, nightmarish slice of horror redolent with the imagery one associates with fever dreams. Frenzy left me feeling scratchy behind the eyes, and very, very thirsty for a nice icy glass of fresh water.

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