White Space by Ilsa J Bick
|White Space by Ilsa J Bick|
|Reviewer: Loralei Haylock|
|Summary: An eerie and unusual read, that will frustrate some and delight others. Recommended if you like horror and reality bending narratives that aren't always easy to follow, but somehow all the more thrilling for it.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 551/15 hours 51 minutes||Date: February 2014|
|External links: Author's website|
Seventeen-year-old Emma has problems. The metal plates in her head may be holding her skull together, but they don't stop the headaches, or the 'blinks' - periods of time that Emma loses. When Emma wakes from a blink in the middle of a snowstorm, driving in a valley she doesn't recognise, and crashes into a snow mobile, it doesn't take long for things to start getting weird.
First, there's Eric, the boy driving the snow mobile. He's handsome, brave and kind, and despite the fact that Emma's never met him before, he's really, really familiar. Then there's the storm, which doesn't behave like any normal weather pattern - it's almost like it's trying to cut them off. And Lizzie, the little girl Emma visits every time she 'blinks', is starting to become more and more tangled with Emma, until it's almost like Emma is inside her head.
As more and more people arrive, the lines between reality and nightmares start to blur. As dark creatures start to pick off their party one by one, Emma and the others have to fight to survive, and to find out exactly what's going on, before it's too late.
As with any book that features unreliable narrators and reality bending drama, it's kind of hard to talk about White Space without inadvertently giving away major plot twists. And it's one of the most twisty-turny narratives I've encountered in a long time.
There's a strong element of unnerving horror to this. Bick doesn't give you much information to orient yourself at the start - leaving you feeling every bit as confused and isolated as the characters. There's lots of creepy imagery with crows and monsters lurking in the dark, as well as a clever sense of increasing dread that comes from the strange weather gradually pushing the characters into a smaller and smaller space.
It isn't an easy read, and I say that without trying to put you off. The story is confusing, and difficult to follow. As Emma and the others start to question their position in reality, so to will you start to wonder what's been real and what hasn't - or in fact if anything at all has been real. I can't even promise a satisfying resolution, either, as by the end, there are still many questions left dangling, ready for book two. But, if you enjoy an eerie and unusual read, there was a lot to enjoy in White Space.
My biggest criticism of the book is that the references to The Matrix and Identity started to feel a bit laboured after a while - it wasn't like the reader really needed any further signposting that this was a story about multiple realities and multiple identities. A couple of sly references at the start (though I must admit, I'm not a major fan of contemporary references - I think they date books unnecessarily) might have been a nice hint for the sic-fi/horror fan, but each time they were referenced it felt more and more like someone waving a sign reading 'NOTICE ME!'
I reviewed the Audiobook version, which was delightfully narrated by Kathleen McInerney. Her handling of the multiple character voices - including several male characters - was excellent, and each character was distinctly recognisable, making the dialogue and changing perspectives very easy to follow.
Overall, this was an interesting and challenging book that will frustrate some and delight others. I recommend it if you like horror and reality bending narratives that aren't always easy to follow, but somehow all the more thrilling for it.
My thanks to the publishers for sending a copy.
Fans of horror and unreliable narrators may also enjoy The Unbecoming Of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin.
You could get a free audio download of White Space by Ilsa J Bick with a 30-day Audible free trial at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy White Space by Ilsa J Bick at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy White Space by Ilsa J Bick at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.