Genre: Psychological suspense
“Everyone has a breaking point. Is this marriage based on unconditional love or an unhealthy obsession?
Susan Branch's life revolves around the care of her charming and inscrutable husband John, a man born into wealth and prestige who lost his family's fortune when his mysterious chronic illnesses left him bedridden. Together they live a decrepit existence beholden to the current owners of his family's former estate.
After years of devoting herself to John's care, Susan is worn out and frustrated. Yet she is determined to scrape together whatever resources she can to keep John comfortable and happy. This includes stealing Demerol from the doctor's office where she works to feed John's ever-increasing need for pain medication.
As John's condition continues to puzzle doctors, Susan begins to notice strange objects appearing around her house. Ever wary of creepy Old Pete, the groundskeeper, Susan decides to confront the elderly man and put an end to his snooping for good.
John suffers a critical emergency, but he is saved and is soon released from the hospital. His health begins to improve, and Susan dreams of a normal life, but her hope for a miracle transforms into a nightmare one fateful afternoon when she discovers the true cause of John's sickness.”
“Christa (Wojo) Wojciechowski is the author of The Wrong David, SICK: A novella, and is working on a series called The Sculptor of New Hope. Her characters explore existential turmoil, mental illness, and the complexity of romantic love. She uses her stories to compare the dark, carnal nature of humanity with its higher qualities of creative expression and intellectualism.
Christa currently resides in
with her husband and a house full of pets. She works as a freelance digital
marketer and loves to help fellow authors build their brands and platforms.
Christa enjoys foreign movies, yoga, wine, and the outdoors. Most of all, she's
passionate about books and writers and loves discussing them on social media.” Panama
Christa currently resides in
Although the story features only two significant characters, Susan, and her husband, John, I never fully engaged with either. I understand that Susan was a hopeless codependent—that became clear early on--but I never really got to know her, to know why she dealt with other people in that manner, and so I struggled to empathize with her. John seemed to flit from one personality to another. Possibly there’s a medical explanation for his behavior, but this is fiction, and I found it difficult to connect with him. The ending has a twist, which for this reader was overly telegraphed. Although the medical specifics were new to me, it wasn’t really a surprise.
The premise is interesting, and the novella seems to be well researched and might provide valuable information to people unknowingly facing similar circumstances, but there was a lot of repetition, in particular related to John’s symptoms and Susan’s internal angst. After closing the last page, I wondered if this might not be better stripped down and delivered as a shorter work with more punch and a faster pace.
Rating: *** Three Stars
Reviewed by: Pete Barber
Print Length: 82 pages