THE EVOLUTIONIST

By: Rena Mason

Nightscape Press

256 Pages

By Rick Amortis

When Stacy Troy begins to endure one vivid, frightful nightmare after the next, she comes to the conclusion something has to give. A lady of many hats, upper middle class suburban housewife, mother, fundraiser coordinator and socialite, her hectic schedule begins to suffer as a result of increasing insomnia and night terror. Reluctantly she agrees to see a therapist. Dr. Light’s techniques seem conventional enough, yet there’s something a little off about the good doctor. As his eccentric demeanor becomes more prevalent, so do the frequency of Stacy’s appointments. Gradually she loses an ongoing battle with distinguishing between fantasy and reality. Will Stacy be able to overcome the grisly symbolism within her dreams or will reality prevail as she adapts the persona of Evolutionist?

Author Rena Mason’s debut novel is a highly imaginative, ambitious tale of supernatural themes. Her use of dreams and the subconscious to showcase the gory macabre is nothing shy of brilliant. We virtually feel the melancholy and despair within her character as she suffers a loss of intimacy with her friends, her absent husband, and her increasingly estranged teenage son. Her dreams depict a ghastly slaughter with an apocalyptic back drop as each of her neighbors and loved ones are dismembered and rendered helpless.

The portrayal of upper middle class/socialite America is illustrated so flawlessly it’s comical. Everything from empty gestures such as air kissing, infatuation with Starbucks, shopping, book clubs and Pilates are reflective of a submissive, shallow society. Mason showcases Stacy and her friends’ activities with pinpoint precision, giving  average readers a look into a way of life otherwise unknown. They become our guilty pleasure comparable to the reality television shows that flood the cable networks today.

Adapting Stacy’s first person point of view is executed with finesse and ease. A tremendous degree of emotion is captured while refraining on the repetitive or mundane. We feel Ms. Troy’s plight and subconsciously cheer her on in hopes of overcoming her inner turmoil. The interpersonal relationships that exist with her husband, parents, son and friends are created to effectively enhance the very realistic, human qualities of Stacy. Within our own psyche we find ourselves comparing our own relationships, with nostalgia and reminiscence, Mason’s prose often evokes a certain sense of living vicariously through one Stacy Troy.

The descriptions of Stacy’s visions and dreams are so vivid we sense a virtual kaleidoscope of living Technicolor spiraling before us. This novel would make an excellent translation unto the big screen if directed properly. The surrealistic feel and unexpected plot twists within the final act are reminiscent of a veteran author, most comfortable on the New York Times best sellers list. Make way for a new Madam of Macabre for Rena Mason has arrived.

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