Caleb J Ross
William Lowson is a Human Remains Removal Specialist – and his beliefs are fuelled by the time he spends cleaning the stains left by dead bodies. William’s fiancee, Julie, is expecting their first child and William is anything but excited – he cannot shake the belief that it will be impossible for a child to have a good life, impossible for it to not to end up as a “stain” for someone else to clean up. Mrs Rose is the Elementary School Principle, and also William’s friend. She blames his fears on an imperfect world and has formed a group of similarly minded people to try and create a sinister and unique kind of perfection.
This is definitely what you could call a disturbing book. Its a horror that really makes you squirm while reading it, and leaves you thinking about it for hours after you’ve put it down. I’m going to be honest – I really didn’t like the first 60 pages of the book – the thoughts that William has about his unborn child, and the graphic description of a failed abortion really, really unsettled me and I very nearly put the book down. I am, however, glad that I carried on and finished the book. Once I got to finding out more about Mrs Rose, the strangers and the “cult” I found myself a lot more invested in the story. I really wanted to find out and understand the bigger picture. I felt that the main points in the book went so much deeper than William’s personal beliefs. I do feel that I could liken the plot to that in ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ by Ira Levin, or ‘The Witches’ by Peter Curtis because these also feature undercover groups and covens of people that have a sinister hold over a town.
William is probably one of the most pessimistic characters I’ve read about. He sees everything in such a negative light and this tone is what seeps into the pages and sets the mood of the book. Again, at the start of the book I didn’t like William’s character and didn’t initially feel any attachment to him but the more I read, the more I slowly changed my mind. I wouldn’t say I particularly liked him at the end of the book but I understood him a little better and I’m glad that he developed as much as he did through the book. I like that he never apologised for any of his flaws – he knew that many of this thoughts and actions were wrong, and I felt that he just accepted this as being part of him. I also liked his friendship with Eugene, and I think that it was that friendship that bought out a different side to him – a more caring side and I think it was essential for his eventual realisation about what Mrs Rose really wanted in her idea of perfection.
Overall, my opinion of Stranger Will is very mixed. I simultaneously liked it and disliked it. I found myself very unsettled, and yet unable to put it down because I did want to find out there the story was heading. This book is beautifully written with a very atmospheric tone and I enjoyed Caleb J Ross’s writing very much. This is a book that pushes the boundaries but I don’t think it should be overlooked – sometimes we need to read books that are dark and thought provoking!
***Disclaimer: I was sent this book for review consideration. This did not in influence my opinion in any way and this review is 100% honest***