Reviewed by: Keith Nixon
Approximate word count: 80-85,000 words
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C.T.Westing is the author’s pen name. As well as writing, C.T. is a part time college instructor. He lives in Western New York with his family. The Death of Wendell Mackey is C.T.’s first novel, six years in the making.
You can learn more about the author on his website / blog.
Wendell Mackey has just escaped from a shadowy building where doctors experiment on people. But now that he’s free Wendell’s nightmare is only just beginning for he is changing into a monster…
I was really puzzled by this book. At the end, I still wasn’t clear exactly what was and had happened to Wendell. Had he been changed by experimentation? Was he a killer or just deranged? There is a large element of flashback, Wendell regularly drops into the past from the present, particularly when remembering his difficult childhood and his negligible relationship with his mother. He also believes he’s changing into a monster, a new form of human. Again, I still can’t quite decide whether this was really happening.
The writing style is quite interesting, slightly offbeat. However, I struggled to take to the characters. There’s Wendell himself who initially works for the shadowy institute, then starts to partake in the experimentation by swallowing pills left in his locker by the doctors. I couldn’t accept this, would many, if any, people do the same? It wasn’t a reasonable premise in my opinion.
The other relatively few characters are also odd – Drake, one of his neighbors is particularly unpleasant and the pair engage in some strange meetings. Sister Agatha, another neighbor and elderly nun takes pity on him for some reason and provides his salvation. I couldn’t see why she would, other than a sense of caring for a fellow human, even one as apparently deranged as Wendell. Perhaps she saw something I couldn’t.
At approaching 85,000 words it’s not the longest novel in the world, but the nine chapters (one per day) means long periods between a natural break and sometimes extensive narrative which is more often than not Wendell internalizing and examining his past, present and future – another element I struggled with. Dialogue was in short supply. Therefore, the story didn’t exactly skip along.
Not a bad read, but not without its challenges.
Some graphic and unpleasant scenes.
None to speak of.
Rating: *** Three Stars