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We Are Monsters by Brian Kirk #BookReview

Some doctors are sicker than their patients. 

When a troubled psychiatrist loses funding to perform clinical trials on an experimental cure for schizophrenia, he begins testing it on his asylum s criminally insane, triggering a series of side effects that opens the mind of his hospital s most dangerous patient, setting his inner demons free. 

We Are Monsters book cover by Brian Kirk

Title:We Are Monsters | Author: Brian Kirk| Publisher: Flame Tree Press | Pub. Date: 30 January 2020 | ASIN: B082VH3ZFS | Genre: Horror | Language: English | Source: Review copy provided by publisher I Unstarred Review

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We Are Monsters Book Review

I love asylum horror, and I eagerly dove into this book with high expectations. I read through it in one sitting, set it down, and simply said, “Huh.”

This book has a lot to love, but it makes some interesting choices that turned me off toward the end. Let’s start with the setting, since that was the biggest lure. Sugar Hill is a facility that houses patients with varying mental health concerns. They have one thing in common. These individuals are a danger to society which makes Sugar Hill the place to send the criminally insane. The facility is run by Dr. Eli Alpert, a gentle man who takes more personal and less invasive approach to patient care. His protege, Dr. Alex Drexler, disagrees with Eli’s passive care plan. Alex is hardcore pro-medication. Thus, the first theme is set up. Which is better, medicine heavy treatment or something alternative and less focused on pharmaceuticals? It’s a question that runs through the entirety of the book.

There’s more to this plot then a simple “medicine vs. holistic” debate, although that argument fuels much of first and second act. Alex struggles with vanity and self-confidence. He desperately wants the acceptance of his father, and he wants validation for his ground breaking drug from his colleagues. His ethics are put to the test, and we are left wondering just how far this man will go to achieve both. It brings to light the dangers of pushing the boundaries of morality too far.

There’s also Angela, another doctor who is caught between Eli and Alex. Her character remains rather flat until the last act. That’s when we get her backstory. It’s also one of the parts of the books that angered me, but I’ll get to that soon.

If you start this story and think you know how it’s going to end, I’m here to tell you that you’re wrong. You’ll never guess. With that said, this ending seems to be splitting readers down the middle. Some might find it a refreshing step outside the typical asylum horror troupe. Others, might be disappointed or upset. Sadly, I was in the latter. While I certainly appreciate that the ending took a surprising turn, I feel that it spun way off the tracks. At times, the morals we are supposed to learn came across preachy. Then, there was Angela’s revelation. I won’t spoil anything with specifics. Let me just say this. She led two lives, one as a doctor and another as a woman who drank too much and slept with men she picked up at the bar. The reason for this duality becomes graphically clear in the final chapters of the book, and I found it not only disgusting and unnecessary, but offensive. Her secret could have been anything, and I feel that the decision to go in that specific direction was forced, not an organic event that would have happened in Angela’s past. I feel as if it was put in the story for shock value. That was disappointing.

On the other hand, I liked Eli’s arc. He had an organic and believable plot line. I felt connected to his personal growth from the beginning, and found him to be the most relatable and sympathetic character.

Overall, I was left with a bit of a confused feeling.

“Huh, that wasn’t what I was expecting.”
“Huh, what did I just read?”
“Huh, that was, um, different.”

I’m on the fence with this one.

You can find this book at many retailers via clicking on the appropriate link on GoodReads (Buying direct from retailers is a good way to support indie authors); however, in the spirit of supporting literacy programs, we would like to point out that you may be able to purchase this book through BetterWorldBooks.



Published inHorror Book ReviewsUnstarred Reviews

One Comment

  1. It started out okay, then I got bored then I got confused and then I DNFed…lol. I just couldn’t take it any longer and it was slumping me. I know a few who enjoyed it but not me. 🙂

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