The Mall by S L Grey
|The Mall by S L Grey
|Reviewer: Louise Laurie
|Summary: A modern work of fiction based in urban South Africa. Dan and Rhoda get caught up in a macabre nightmare as they find themselves trapped overnight in a shopping mall.
|Date: June 2011
|Publisher: Atlantic Books
|External links: Author's website
I must admit that the front cover is extremely eye-catching and that drop of blood gives a hint as to what the book's all about. There are two central characters and their stories are told in the first person in alternating chapters. So first up, is Rhoda - and boy does she have attitude. She's babysitting for a friend and decides to take the youngster to a local shopping mall. Nothing wrong there, you could say except that it's late at night (the boy should really be in bed) and the shops are starting to shut for the night. Rhoda is a bit of a mess. She takes drugs, although she says she's not reliant on them, so when the 'kid' goes and does a disappearing act on her, she's both fuming and scared. Grey locates her story in Jo'burg and there's an element of threatening violence within its pages.
And right from the beginning we see this book is bang-up-to-date with lots of references to computer games, Lara Croft, mobile phones, designer clothes and designer names, for example. Rhoda is not easy to like and to be fair, she'd probably admit that herself. Her social skills and manners are well, non-existent. Every sentence that comes out of her mouth has a swear word or two, or three, in it. And there's also other deeper and more serious issues that she hasn't dealt with yet. But will she ever? We know enough about her to see that she stumbles through her life, one day at a time. She's her own worst enemy. And as she's starting to lose the plot in her frantic search to find this youngster, somehow she's able to enlist the help from someone who works in one of the mall shops. He's called Daniel. Another misfit in life, would we believe. He hates working at The Mall, hates his shitty life but doesn't have the intelligence or the energy to do something about it.
And as The Mall is closed till morning, the main lights are switched off and night security put in place. Things turn sinister for both Rhoda and Daniel. They stumble upon areas, doors and corridors not normally open to the general public. They then start to receive weird text messages on their mobiles. And at this point yes, it does resemble some computer game.
The conversations - if you can call them that - between Rhoda and Dan are peppered with sneers, silences and usually ends with one of them telling the other to shut the fuck up. Initially this was all well and good to set the scene and also set the tone of the book - but it did go on a bit. There was an awful lot of repetitious chat between the two, for no apparent purpose. Then again, perhaps that was the purpose. However, had I not been reading this book to eventually review it, I would probably have given up around page 100 - because it was rather dull and meandering. But, good news, I found the second half of the book much better. Grey has a nice line in quirky shop names etc as the pair find themselves deeper and deeper into fantasy land. I can see where Grey is coming from in placing her story in a mall and that's good but I just thought that she spoilt it by over-egging the pudding. There are some funny moments, again, mainly in the second part of the book and on p.208 I (sort of) laughed out loud. I think that this book is way too long (by a good 100 pages or so). It may suit fans of urban fantasy - if they can get past the first 100 or so pages.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag. We also have a review of Grey's The Apartment.
If this book appeals then try Biting the Bullet by Jennifer Rardin.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Mall by S L Grey at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Mall by S L Grey at Amazon.com.
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