Mama’s Boy
Fran Friel

Insidious Publications, $14.99
Reviewed by Nickolas Cook

As stated by the great James Newman in his introduction for Fran Friel’s debut novella release, Mama’s Boy, “…we all ought to keep a very close eye on this Fran chick from now on”.

Much agreed, Mr. Newman.

Mama’s Boy is an impressive debut, not only from Fran Friel as an author, but from Insidious Publications as well, this being the inaugural release in their newest line of limited edition soft cover novella series.  Limited to 100 numbered copies, and signed by all contributors (Illustrators Tom Moran and Zach McCain, as well as authors Fran Friel and James Newman), Mama’s Boy tells the frighteningly convincing story of an incestuous serial rapist/murderer known as Frank Doe.  Set in an insane asylum, we learn through the dual narratives of a series of interviews with his doctor, and her personal journal, all the gruesome details of Frank’s past.  The story moves along at a nice clip, while Friel keeps the reader on his toes trying to figure out who’s really the crazy one – the patient or the doctor.  She knows how to end each chapter to keep the reader turning the pages, as we sink deeper into the horror and squalor of this mad killer’s delusions.  As he unfolds each new terrible act, we find ourselves alternately feeling sympathy and disgust with each dark turn of the page, until we, the reader, may question where our actual sympathies do lie by the last line.

Mama’s Boy is cleverly and intriguingly written, and a must-read for those of us who love to discover new voices in the genre.  I don’t want to spoil the fun by giving away too much about the twists and turns to which Friel subjects her readers, but suffice it to say that if this is what she can do as a first novella, one can hardly wait to see what she’ll have up her sleeve next time around.

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