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Readers` Reviews

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
dmitriy sinyagin
I just finished Fellside by M. R. Carey. I honestly don’t know how I feel about this book. I received a free copy from Hachette Books, and I was excited to read it. After the first page, I was drawn in. Heroin abuse is such an epidemic now, and so I wanted to read more about what addictions can do a person. Jess Moulson’ life was completely destroyed by it. However, when the novel switched to the prison, it was just too dark and violent for my tastes. I am sure that it is a realist portrayal of what can happen in a prison, but it was hard for me to get through some of the passages. What kept my attention, though, was the “ghost” of the dead child who often saved the life and sanity Moulson. Then even the ghost had a twist. In the end, I suppose that everyone “got what was coming to them,” except perhaps the main character. I was disturbed, but maybe that is what good literature should do; it takes us out of our comfort zones and opens our eyes to worlds that are unfamiliar to us. This is a good book, with many twists and turns, but if you averse to some pretty graphic violence, this book may not be for you.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
james bensinger
4.5 stars!

FELLSIDE is not really a horror story, in my opinion. It's more of a ghost story with horrific elements. Whatever the genre in which it's classified, it's a damn fine book!

Jess is a heroin addict who was badly burned in a fire; a fire in which a young boy was killed. This story begins when Jess wakes up in the hospital and discovers what happened. She is held responsible for the death of the boy, and ends up in prison. I can't tell you anything else about the plot because I believe the reader needs to let it unfold as the author intended.

I thought the beginning of this book was excellent, but then the pacing slowed until about the halfway point. As the plot thickened though, the pacing picked back up again and took off in directions that I doubt anyone could see coming. Much as what made THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS a special story, FELLSIDE is also special-it's about the TELLING of the tale as much as it is the tale itself.

The characters here were not all black and white, and I enjoyed that. They almost all had many layers and nothing much was totally clear about any them until near the very end. Being that the majority of this book took place in a women's prison, I expected the main players to be bad people, and don't get me wrong, some of them were. But the majority of them came across to me as REAL people, not just cardboard cutouts that moved the plot along. And the people that I expected to be the "good" characters had a lot of surprises in store. I bet they surprise you too.

This novel was a mystery to me almost the entire time I was reading. I couldn't guess, (though I tried!), where the story was going to go, what was going to happen or how it would all end up for Jess. I find this to be a rare occurrence, and as such, I relished the journey that was FELLSIDE.

Highly recommended to fans of the author's previous work as well as to fans of ghost stories!

*Thank you to the publisher and to Net Galley for providing the free e-ARC of this novel in exchange for my honest review! This is it. *
We're All Wonders :: I Wear My Tutu Everywhere! (All Aboard Books (Paperback)) :: All the Best Things About Being in a Wedding - The Best Ever Ring Bearer :: The Boy on the Bridge ::
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
I've got to start by saying I am an amature writer that has been criticized many times for many mistakes. When I start reading a book, I don't look for writing errors, but they hit me like a whip when they appear. The writing was pretty poor. I started the book but couldn't continue. Unnecessary words, no brevity to the prose, action was lacking. Because of this, I can't speculate if the story was good or not because I didn't finish.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
bryan hartney
Jess Moulsen has been sentenced to life in prison in Fellside after being convicted of murder by arson during a heroin induced haze of rage against her boyfriend. Only it wasn't her sleazy boyfriend who died, 10 year old Alex Beech was killed in the fire, and Jess is overcome with grief. Attempting suicide by starvation, Jess is on the brink of death in the prison infirmary when she is visited by the ethereal image of a young boy. A young boy who desperately needs Jess to find his killer....his real killer.Corrupt prison guards, drug rings, threats of violence and even murder leave Jess fighting for her life inside of Fellside while at the same time trying to piece together the actual events of the night of the tragic death of Alex and gather evidence to use in her rapidly approaching court appeal.
This book was a huge bummer guys. Firstly, it was waaaay too long, like unnecessarily so. Everything that happened was so drawn out and so many scenes pointless to the overall plot, he could easily have trimmed off 100-150 pages and still gotten the point across. Secondly the lawyer and his infatuation with Jess, declaring his love for her after the appeal was over the top and unbelievable. It literally made me roll my eyes. Who does that? They barely knew each other. The ending sucked, there was no vindication for the main character. Like what was the point of the entire book?! I seriously could name like 32 ways to still bring down the corruption within the prison without all the hullabaloo at the end. It was all just so fantastical that I really had a hard time buying into any of it. I think I'm more down with the idea of the out of body experiences Jess has throughout the book than with the way none of the pawns in the drug scheme could think of a way out of their predicaments. The characters were are pretty stereotypical, no real depth to them whatsoever. Jess was the only believable one of the bunch and like I said, her ending sucked.

The whole thing was just weird and strange and felt like two different stories from different genres smashed together to make the book more interesting. Maybe Carey should have stuck with one of the plot lines instead? Nothing about the book was shocking and I saw all the plot twists a mile away.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
bj rn hallberg nielsen
I was so disappointed when I finally struggled through this book. I wish I could interview the authors of the cover blurbs. Why did they rate this book so highly?! "You will not want to put this down" I wanted to put it down all the time. The only reason I persisted was that I so enjoyed "The Girl with All the Gifts." I wanted to give this author a chance to redeem himself. The beginning describes the experiences of Jess Moulson, a heroin addict who awakens in the hospital with partial amnesia. She doesn't realize what happened to her. She is recovering from severe burns that destroyed part of her face. But she doesn't seem to have strong feelings about her situation. The author talks about her feelings but doesn't show us her anguish so that we can identify with this protagonist. In fact, I don't feel much sympathy for anyone in this novel--except maybe the ghost.
"Fantastic" --I would say instead "Possibly tolerable."
"I was absolutely nuts about it" I guess I would have to be nuts in order to enjoy it.
"Brilliant" Maybe it's brilliant, but it seems to plod.
"Explosive" --I would say slow moving.
"Gripping" -- Only my hands were gripping the book as I read it.
"Skillfully twisty...emotionally intense" -- moves along with a sluggish pace...emotionally flat.
Now that I have finished it, I enjoy it more in retrospect. I'm proud of finally reading all of it--almost 500 pages.
I think the author writes fairly well. When I retell the story, it seems that it must be emotionally gripping: inmates suffer beatings, murders, drug withdrawals. Somehow, I never seem to experience all of these events. For example, the author writes about a corrupted prison guard. The paragraph begins, "The next thing he needed to do was to cover his arse...." After he wipes a body free of his fingerprints, "He'd have to remember to do the same thing with her keys...and to find a place to drop them that would seem plausible when people with some degree of expertise picked over the pieces of this." I am really missing inner dialog to show the guard's fear of being caught and maybe some rationalizations "I had to do it" and blame "She was just a stupid bitch!" I want to feel the intense emotions--not have them described in unemotional terms
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Fellside is a prison, a correctional facility for women to be precise, where three thousand women 'form a community committed to a practical ideal of rehabilitation'. Sounds idyllic. Not. A women's prison is not a place that many people get to see the inside of, but we sure get plenty of insight from programmes like Bad Girls, Orange is the New Black, and Wentworth. Really tough women, young and old, fighting to survive. Fellside is no different.

There have been a number of best selling novels in the last few years which have as their central premise a young woman who has suffered memory loss. Jess Moulson is yet another young woman in the unfortunate position of having her life dramatically affected by amnesia. The story opens with Jess regaining consciousness in a hospital bed, handcuffed to the bed, being treated for serious burns, smoke inhalation. Gradually she remembers that she was involved in a fire in her flat that led to the death of a ten year old boy who lived in the flat upstairs. Jess is a drug addict and has vague recollection that she set the fire for reasons that she can't quite recall. By page 25 she has been found guilty of murder, the subject of the most awful press coverage, and sentenced to Fellside. Her court appointed lawyer is doubtful that the full and factual story has come out but can't get Jess to see sense, her guilt at the death of young Alex completely overwhelming her.

So life in prison begins. Not a bed of roses. Now, I am not a fan of supernatural or fantasy fiction, I really just do not get it. But very cleverly the author who, under a pen name has written for Marvel comics and writes his own graphic fiction, introduces what can only be called a ghost character - a young boy who comes to Jess in her sleep, in her dreams, taking her with him to his world. She is convinced this is the spirit of Alex, and gradually realises that he is helping her to see what really happened the night of the fire. And so the mystery of Alex's death begins to be solved.

But it is definitely creepy, weird and unsettling. At the same time as Jess is moving between the real world and the spirit world, she has to adapt to prison life in all its ruthlessness, cruelty, bent prison officers, and survival of the fittest code. It is pretty grim. What was interesting and did help to soften the brutality was the back stories of the prisoners and how they came to be in Fellside, including Jess's own story. As awful as they all are, terrible things happened to the women that led them to prison, so it is hardly surprising the terror continues.

At nearly 500 pages, already one can see that there is lot going on in this novel. It is tricky to define what sort of novel it is - a psychological thriller? murder mystery? supernatural? fantasy? horror? At times it does wobble, and for me, I did lose my way with all the wanderings Jess and Alex's spirit do in the pursuit of justice. But living in such a prison environment, wouldn't you too want to escape to inside your head?

If you get past all the spooky action, then this is actually quite a riveting story. Life in the prison is graphically depicted, all the characters are very well drawn with great depth, there are lots of twists in the plot and surprises. And in the end, justice is served.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
steven turek
Short Review: a very slow first act, confusing themes, and a cast of unlikable and sometimes irredeemable characters muddles what could have been a better story about personal redemption.

Longer Review: I came to this book after reading "The Girl With All the Gifts". That book was by no means knock-out amazing or groundbreaking or award winning but the author had a certain narrative style that really drew me in. Here, that same style seems largely absent. For example, in "The Girl With All the Gifts", the author did a fantastic job of creating a distinct thought pattern and narrative style surrounding each of 5 characters. Here, in "Fellside", that is definitely not the case. In fact, part of the reason I mark this book down is because the narrative never seems to find a firm style or flow and stick with it. More than that, the focus of the narration is oftentimes confusing and many times switches from paragraph to paragraph. The narration is told through 3rd person, but it's never exactly focused and never exactly dispassionate / omnipresent. Probably the first thing any author should figure out, firmly, is how he will be telling the story, and in "Fellside", it seems like the author never really took time to do that.

Beside the HOW, this story also seems to be confused on the WHAT. The first act or so of this novel is just a bit on the painfully slow side, and I found myself constantly wondering when the turn would come, when the hook would be made clear, because paragraph after paragraph was just following random characters as they entered or went about their life in Fellside prison. But even once the first turn comes, the story still seems unclear as to what it wants to be. We bounce back and forth between life and death drama that the protagonist finds herself mixed in with at the prison, while she's engaging in some supernatural antics at night, and then we get another plot going involving an appeal to her original conviction. And while life is often many different plot lines strung together, in this fictional novel none of the plot lines really seem to weave together successfully, and feel forced.

As we get to the last quarter of the novel or so, things speed up and several different concurrent mysteries deepen to the point of true interest. But then things escalate to the point of near ridiculousness. Without spoilers, I'll just say that logic, on the part of the author and the characters, goes right out the window and we find not one, not two, but at least three characters doing things that are beyond reason, beyond emotional outbursts, and seem like they would never happen in a real-life setting. By the time the story draws to a weirdly drawn out and not-quite-epilogue close, I found myself dissatisfied with the whole thing and disliking each of the characters. True, the setting is a prison, but even the protagonist is ... well, for lack of any other word, an idiot. Not like a bumbling idiot, but just a moron that is unsympathetic in her pathetic qualities.

Final notes: despite way too much slang, especially British specific slang that Americans will be unlikely to understand, the narration itself is not bad, and is most times intelligent and engaging. There's plenty of sharp foreshadowing, and the only reason I didn't drop to 2 stars on this review is because there are several truly good twists that are laid up very well. In addition, some of the more philosophical elements are interesting and worth mulling over, but these gems are buried under a mound of bad narrative STYLE.

Definitely get this book from a library.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
M. R. Carey has done it again. This is a great stand alone novel. It comes behind another, "The Girl With All The Gifts". The two have nothing in common, but are equally great in their on right. The storyline of "Fellside" is thoughtfully and carefully put together. The characters are well done, but, not overcooked. I really loved this book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jennifer reeder
Fellside was a unique combination of psychological, thriller, supernatural, crime, and romance. When I say psychological, it was because it makes you think; thriller because I couldn't put it down, and found my heart racing; romance not in the typical sense of the term, but a deep and surprising love that brought all the characters to a new level, and puts the reader in a different frame of mind. It was the kind of book you know is completely unrealistic, but since the author believes in it, you believe in it. It begins with a mysterious tug, and right as you fall in love with the main character she starts to break your heart. M. R. Carey doesn’t write cute books, or sweet books, or books that are easy to read. They make you think and confront how you feel about certain things; but it’s beautiful in it’s own way. I am totally in love with this story, this world, the concept, and the way it all comes together in the end.

I definitely recommend it for ages 16+, but not as a light beach-read or hour-at-a-time read. Sit down and chew on this one, and let your mind go where it wants to. Content/Recommendation: Ages 16+ for some violent scenes. This is a women's prison. - See more at: [...]
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Once again I am disappointed due to my own stupidity. For some reason (not reading the blurb, perhaps?), I assumed that this novel was set in the same world as The Girl with All the Gifts. It was not. There is no zombie plague here, if that’s what you were hoping for. But I'm probably the only dummy who didn't read the blurb.

Jess is a heroin addict who is sent to Fellside Prison after an unfortunate event ends with a child’s death. Jess has no recollection of his death but is filled with remorse and guilt. Alex was her friend, her only friend, and she felt protective of him. Now she doesn’t seem to care what happens to her and has given up on living. As she nears death from a self-imposed hunger strike, she sees Alex in ghostly form and realizes there is quite possibly a lot more to the story of his death than she was led to believe.

What follows is a story that I wouldn’t consider horror at all. It’s more a story of prison corruption, evil doers and innocents caught up in a big old mess. Jess struggles to discover the truth about Alex’s death while she also has figure out how to survive prison life. Jess is a great flawed character and the plot, for the most part, was gripping and grueling but I wasn’t really in the mood for this type of story when I picked it up and found myself a bit bored here and there.

The good? Flinty Williams narrates the audio and you can’t go wrong with that accent.

The bad? It’s a little slow and unless you’re into reading about prison politics you may find yourself a little bored too. There are a lot of characters and many are called by their first names and their last names by other characters. I had a hard time keeping them all straight and, in the end, I am not sure I did.

I’m giving it a three because it didn’t grab me but I didn’t despise it either.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This story is part fantasy, part ghost story, part crime, part legal procedure, part relationships, part essence an amazing mixture that cuts across various genres to create a work of spell bounding beauty. At its heart is the struggle of one young lady, Jess Moulson heroin addict, and her attempt to find answers following a terrible incident that has led to her being incarcerated in the woman's correctional facility known as Fellside deep in the Yorkshire countryside.

Jess and her partner in drug taking, John Street, live the life of addicts, injecting when they can and stealing to feed that addiction....."turning household objects into cash, and then into smack. Junkie alchemy." A fire occurs which results in the death of a child Alex Beech suspicion immediately falls on Jess Moulson who now seems destined for a life without hope and a future with no love. In Fellside Jess is visited by the ghost of the dead child (or is she?) who appears to have a message to deliver and a story to tell. M R Carey's style of prose is sublime and his descriptions of life within a prison environment really bring the horror to life..."The prison's main buildings were tall and graceful, each painted in a different colour of the rainbow. Knowing what these blocks of concrete and glass really represented, Jess felt a weird sense of dislocation."...."She saw what they saw on the inside of their closed eyelids, except that each of them only saw their own dreams"......Jess has the ability to leave her body and travel into the netherworld with Alex, a place of dreams and darkness, a place to discover and resolve..."She felt an immediate and dizzying sense of relief. Nobody could pursue her here and bring her back. Nobody would even realize she was gone. It was like the scene you saw in old movies sometimes where someone left a pillow or a wadded coat stuffed down under their blankets so it looked like they were in bed asleep while they slipped away unsuspected for some crazy adventure."

Paul Levine, a young solicitor, is certain there has been a miscarriage of justice and is determined to return to the courts, with what he hopes is new evidence, and fight for the freedom of his client......he is also just a little bit in love with her. I thought the relationship between Levine and a physically and emotionally scarred Jess sprung to life in the hands of the author. When her past lover John Street is forced to give evidence the scene is set for some amazing revelations and charged emotions, that will bring a tear to all but the most hardened of readers!.

All her life had been a struggle; mother Paula and her useless partner Barry, a world addicted to heroin and finally the harsh and brutal regime of Fellside. Not often does a story affect or move me in such a way with a conclusion difficult to read but so right in the overall context of this tour de force! I will certainly be reading Carey's bestseller "The Girl with all the Gifts" as it is such a pleasure to be in the company of a writer so in control of his craft and his ability to create and weave a magical story. Highly Recommended!
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
I really REALLY wanted to like this book, but didn't. Nothing much happened. I found the author's prior book The Girl With All the Gifts outstanding. So when I discovered the author had a new book on the way, I waited with great anticipation until I finally got my hands on it. I kept reading, waiting for something interesting to occur. Got to the end and nothing interesting had occured. Bummer. I'll definitely give the author another chance, but unfortunately I didn't enjoy this novel.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
melike aydin
4.5 stars.

Fellside by M.R. Carey is a book that I have had trouble reviewing, but not for a lack of love. It is a story that caught me by surprise both in how badly I misjudged the cover and how thoroughly I enjoyed it.

Jess is a heroin addict who sets a fire in her apartment that ends up killing a kid and disfiguring her half of her face. In prison for manslaughter, Jess just wants nothing more than to die...when the boy she killed comes back to haunt her. Is there such thing as redemption in Fellside or has he come back to make her pay for her sins? Jess is a character who you aren't sure whether you should love, hate, or want to throttle for most of the book but one that will win you over with her overwhelming and flawed humanity.

I have always been fascinated with prison stories and this one delivered everything I was hoping for and more. The story slows in a few places but the end absolutely justifies (and explains) the means. I highly recommend this book.

I received this e-ARC from Orbit Books/NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
liz sharelis
I'm sure there is a way to review this without referencing the tv show, but screw it, Fellside is The New Orange is The New Black(albeit 4th season was a disappointment)....with dreamwalking. Well, technically Fellside is the equivalent of Litchfield. A women prison with an elaborate and fascinating cast of characters, privately managed, much like Litchfield now. Our main heroine (title no only appropriate, but punny, her way down had all but the e at the end) gets sent to Fellside upon being convicted of murder. There she discovers not only the new way of the new world, but also a new way of a dream world, one she can visit and even shape. So it's a drama, but also a murder mystery and it works on both levels to an extent. As is this is an almost great book...the writing is terrific, the character development is absolutely first class and the novel's leading strength, the narrative is vivid, dynamic, utterly engaging (postpone a meal engaging), no small task for the girth of nearly 500 pages. BUT...yes, there is a but, several, in fact. Moulson, the main character, though Carey made her motivations clear at all times, was all too often frustrating, utterly careless of her life, her safety, sticking to a peculiar rigid moral code. Then again who knows how much value one's actual life holds when one can travel to different planes of existence. The first trial was a joke compared to the second one, moral here must be make sure your lawyer is in love with you. The dreamwalking aspect was actually distracting at times, albeit certainly the salient (if not) main component of the story, but I almost preferred it as a straight forward drama more. the main BUTS are the twists, Alex's identity, Naz thing, the final confrontation...all can be seen a mile away. For a novel that size one might expect/hope to be actually genuinely surprised now and again and Fellside just didn't offer that to me (and I made an effort to learn nothing of the plot going in), but it did entertain consistently and engage utterly and for that I almost loved it. Carey got good too, I'm impressed. Felix Castor must have been just a warm up act. Seems like he adjusted his name to reflect the change. Very good, almost great read, immensely enjoyable despite its faults. Must like that other aforementioned tv show.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
marycatherine mcgarvey
Fellside, by M. R. Carey is a different sort of book. When I found out about it, I thought, "Oh wow, this is gonna be an excellent read!" I jumped on the giveaway and snagged my copy. I also purchased the audiobook, to listen while walking each morning. Nothing better than having a good book read to you, right? Not only that- he's a writer for groups like DC and Marvel comics- you know I had to get in on this one!
Imagine my deep feelings of confusion while reading this book! I kept trying to figure out, why there was so much going on! I wondered if the ending was going to be sure the "Bad Guys" got their just deserves or not!

This is what the book's blurb says:
Fellside is a maximum security prison on the edge of the Yorkshire Moors. It's not the kind of place you'd want to end up. But it's where Jess Moulson could be spending the rest of her life. It's a place where even the walls whisper.
And one voice belongs to a little boy with a message for Jess.
Will she listen?

Sounds great right? But there was so much more going on, it obscured the story of Jess! I kept thinking, why is all this other stuff going on- it doesn't matter! The good thing is, the ending was much better than I thought it would be. I was very pleased with it, but did I think it was as great as anticipated? Nope. I was sorta let down because the secondary story took over the main portion I was salivating for. It wasn't too shabby, all in all. Check out Mike Carey's (M. R. Carey) Fellside. I'm on to the next book.?
Ratings: ???out of 5 specs
*Paper Tigers is next.
**Book published by Orbit.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
**** 4 out of 5 stars
Review by: Mark Palm

Walking with Ghosts...

While not a typical academic work I would argue that Danse Macabre is an exceptional book about horror fiction, especially Stephen King’s concept of the three “tarot” cards of horror, which are central to many tales in the genre; the Werewolf, the Vampire, and the “Thing Without a Name.” I cannot go into these concepts with any depth here, but you can if you read the book, and I suggest that you do.

The one “tarot” card he barely touches is that of the Ghost. Mr.King states that the Ghost is an Archetype, and a concept too vast to discuss in a limited space. Fellside, by M.R. Carey is not really a horror novel, although there are plenty of scares to be found; but it is a Ghost Story, if any novel ever was.

Jess Moulson wakes up in a hospital bed, badly burned, with no memory of how she got there. In time she recalls that she is a heroin addict, and that her flat burned down, and she has been charged with murder, since the police claim that she deliberately set the fire, and it took the life of a little boy named Alex who lived one story above. Wracked with guilt, Jess sleepwalks through her trial, and is easily convicted and sentenced to Fellside, a maximum security prison on the Yorkshire Moors.

When she was a child Jess had an unusually vivid imaginary friend, and claimed that she could walk into other people’s dreams. Now, in prison, without hope, she decides to starve to death. As she grows weaker and weaker she begins to be visited by a ghost, who she slowly comes to believe is Alex, the boy upstairs. Eventually she becomes convinced that she did not kill Alex, and that someone else did, and determined to discover who, she stops her slow suicide and begins to investigate Alex’s death and her own case, using her legal team. While this is happening Jess is finally released into the prison’s general population, and must deal with her reputation as a child-killer, which places her at the bottom rung of the convict population.

At this point we are only about a third of the way into the novel, and Mr Carey is just getting warmed up. Fellside is one of those books were the reader’s knowledge grows alongside that of the main character, so to divulge much more would be unfair to the reader, but just let me say that Fellside is a startling hybrid that manages to incorporate aspects of several different genres without giving short shrift to any of them. Jess is essentially stuck in a dark and violent prison while trying to slowly piece together an arson investigation and feel her way through a supernatural/psychological mystery. While it would seem like handful Mr. Carey pulls it off, and one reason is the supporting cast. Each person caught up in the story, from the prisoners, to the prison guards and staff, to Jess’s legal team is a living breathing character, subject to change, and all varying shades of grey.

Fellside is Jess's book however, and even that is a surprise that is deftly handed by Mr. Carey. At first Jess is as insubstantial as a ghost, but as the story progresses Jess comes more and more to life, until her courage and bravery and principals in the face of all but overwhelming odds makes her a true heroine. Every time I thought I knew where the plot was going Mr. Carey steered to somewhere else, and it was often because of new depths that were found in Jess. Read Fellside, but be prepared to be haunted.

Full reviews available at:[...]
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
daniel eigenberg
Fellside is one of those hard to rate and even harder to review books. The prose is solid, easy to read and vivid. Storywise I don’t think I’ve read anything quite like it. Depending on your tastes it could be considered a unique blend of genres and tensions, or a jumbled mess of ideas.
The story revolves around Jess Moulson, accused of murder (but according to the laws of fiction probably innocent) and sentenced to Fellside, she must survive the ruthless prison environment, the ghost of the boy she allegedly murdered and her own guilt.
While I think this was a good book that most would enjoy, I personally found many points grating, but it’s hard to explain without a….
SPOILER (and rant) ALERT
My first beef was the main character. Jess Moulson wakes up with amnesia, (hardly an original trope) and quickly finds out that she is being accused of murder for lighting a fire in her apartment that killed a neighbouring boy. Aside from the annoying memory loss cliché Jess bothered me in her passiveness. Her only real actions in the beginning are to resist any help from her lawyer and to muddle through her trial without resistance. Even the crime is harm by accident. Once sent to Fellside Jess goes on hunger strike, an unexpected move but unfortunately making the character even more inactive than before.
I think the whole hunger strike deal was mean to show just how devastatingly guilty Jess felt, which was fair, but equally there was no real tension behind it. Other than the broad assumption that Jess is innocent, one doesn’t have a lot of reason to care whether she does starve to death. This probably sounds cold, but my point is there isn’t any feeling of “oh no she must survive to reveal the real killer, or help the boys ghost,” or whatever.
The ghost of the murdered boy appearing and revealing to Jess that he was killed before the fire jump starts both Jess and the story, and initially the plot goes strong. Jess tries to contact her lawyer to investigate the information she has been given, but quickly finds herself threatened by Grace and Devlin, the prisoner/guard pairing who essentially run the prison (and the supply of recreational drugs).
However then there is a plot twist, in this case a literary twisting of the plot to something else. I do have to compliment Carey for devising such an unexpected plot development but ultimately it undermines the story as much as it surprises the reader. DOUBLE-SPOILER WARNING. Basically Jess discovers that she is not haunted by the ghost of the murdered boy, but by the ghost of another inmates murdered girlfriend, Jess has simply super-imposed his details onto the entity (because that’s how ghosts work in Fellside).
While completely unexpected, the problem with the twist is it undermined the whole story about Jess investigating the boy’s death, suddenly making the plot about the other inmate’s murder, which was no mystery in my head and not what I was reading to find out about. Jess’ murder conviction is overturned by a stupid series of legal arguments which were so obvious they should have been realized in the original investigation even if the police ‘thought they had their killer’. Basically Jess’ ex-partner’s statement did not fit video footage, he had less burn damage on his body (suggesting awareness of the fire) and had just taken life insurance out on Jess, (now that I write this I wonder how a 30ish broke junkie gets life insurance?) The real blow is returning the victim’s death to tragic mistake rather than driving mystery of the story.
I also found the story a little long, with too many characters getting page-time, like the governor who seemed almost like comic relief rather than a valid character.
So in the end while 90% of this review is rant, Fellside isn’t a terrible book, it was just a story that taught me more about what I like to see in a novel and what leaves me cold.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
I received a free ARC via NetGalley from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

This is the first book I've read by Carey and I was really excited to get into it based on the description. I have heard great things about his other book which has been on my TBR for quite some time. However, this book was on and off for me. Parts of it I found really intriguing and interesting, while other parts just fell flat for me.

I did like Jess as a character, and in many ways I wanted to delve further into her, her backstory, and her current situation. Despite Jess being the main character, I felt the book focused too much on developing a sub plots that didn't add anything significant to the overall book or mesh well with Jess' story and the voices she hears.

This book is often described as a spooky thriller. I didn't find there were a lot of twists and turns that kept me guessing or that it was spooky. Unusual things happen do happen, but not not in a way that is scary or creepy.

While I didn't love this book, but I felt the concept was interesting and wasn't something that is offered from many other novels. I'm looking forward to picking up The Girl with All the Gifts soon, which will hopefully be a better fit for me.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
katie tahuahua
This book takes you on the Journey of Jessica Moulson after she’s been convicted of murdering her upstairs, 10 year old neighbor, Alex Beach by fire caused by a lit and still burning cigarette. Fellside is the ladies only prison where Jessica has been confined to, but she isn’t the only one still stuck there. As you travel through the heartbreak of Jessica’s jail life and dive deep into the lives of those around her, you will be hooked from beginning to end.

I took a real chance on Fellside. I loved Girl With All The Gifts…. Until it turned into an overplayed story on a topic I’m completely disinterested in. Fellside however, despite what you might think of that “sophomore slump” is absolutely phenomenal. I listened to it as opposed to reading it and have no regrets over it. I. Just. Wow. Especially if you love Orange Is The New Black and or stories about prison in general.

The level of detail that the author uses is incredible. He covered so many different angles and left absolutely 0 holes in the end, each character had its own conclusion and you feel completely blissful as you close the last page (or in my case, listen to the last word). I’m highly impressed with everything about this book and really gave me hope that M.R. will continue to succeed as a writer.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Yet another case where I opened a novel I'd reserved at the library ages ago without remembering anything about the plot. I think I need to start reading all novels this way! What IS it with modern book descriptions giving away so much before you even crack it open?!

I don't think I would have made the connection that this was written by the same author as The Girl with All the Gifts just from reading it. I mean, both were well written, but until the ending, they each have a very different feel. In case the 4-star reviews on both didn't tell you, I think that's a GOOD thing, unless you're only reading this because you loved TGWATG and want another version of the same story.

This is a ghost story, yes, but most of it is a story of humans - flawed, multifaceted humans - balancing their circumstances with their own greatest needs, and the many ways those come out.

There were some things that didn't quite work for me, but overall, an enjoyable read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
bertha dur
The story started off a bit slow—Jess Moulson as a junkie who winds up in the hospital and then prison, a horrible situation we've seen one too many times. It's terribly sad how heroin can over one's life and push everything else to the background. So though I wasn't impressed with the story throughout the first quarter of the book, it nevertheless managed to build a solid background and foundation for the main character.

I actually considered not finishing it if things didn't pick up as this definitely wasn't the story I signed up for. But I'm glad I persevered because by 25% in, a new ghostly character was introduced that shook things up considerably. In the end, I was was rewarded with a very satisfying, albeit sad, story.

<i>Thank you to Orbit Books and NetGalley for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.</i>
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
ryan luetzen
Fellside takes the reader on a graphic, sometimes violent, journey through addiction, the criminal justice system and prison life, with two tour guides, Jess and Alex, whom travel back and forth between the worlds of the living and the dead; Jess is filled with guilt and longs for a way to atone for sins she committed and may have committed and Alex seeks justice and retribution. Its a paranormal/suspense story filled with multi=layered gritty characters, none of whom are all good or all bad, and it kept me engaged until the end. A few of the story threads were left unsewn up, leaving me to believe this may be the first in a series.

I received an ARC of Fellside from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review of the book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
First off, I must say that I am now a huge fan of M.R. Carey. His writing style along with exacting detail and original, thought-provoking stories has pulled me in, causing me to devour both of his books in record time.(I read them both within a week!) The Girl with all the Gifts took me on a post-apocalyptic journey that, through Carey's eyes seemed feasible. His scientific explanations had some basis in fact adding to the whole terrifying aspect of that world.
In Fellside, he once again relied on his ability to meld facts. In this case, current day horrors affecting society and individuals blend seamlessly with the remarkable story of a woman and her ghostly encounters. I hesitated briefly before diving into this book because, quite honestly, I wasn't thrilled with the idea of a heroin-addicts story. But, as other reviewers have stated, once I started reading there was no looking back. Carey once again pulled me into a world I wasn't looking forward to. Once there, he had me. His descriptions, while vivid and at times poetic, are not overdone. Nothing interferes with the journey he takes you on, not flowery language or unbelievable dialogue. He paints a clear picture, most times that is, until he wants you to paint your own. Some of the sequences with the paranormal aspect of the book are written in such a way that I had to read them several times to get a clear image in my mind. I believe Carey wanted it that way. He doesn't insult the reader with too much explanation. He just continues on.
The other noteworthy thing about his writing is the attention to detail. Thank God, I can plead ignorance to how life plays out in prison, but after reading the book, I came away knowing a bit more about incarceration and the kind of culture it breeds.
The only reason I didn't give this book five stars is because of the ending. While I can accept Jess's ending, seeing as how she was always portrayed as a self-destructive character, I was disappointed that Alex never did make an appearance. I realize that Carey left us with a vague sense of Alex and Jess's meeting with the last few lines of the book. Still, I felt a bit let down that Alex, who, at least in Jess's mind for a large part of the book was never a part of the story other than his sad beginning and ultimately his end.
Even with that, I would recommend this book, based on the writing and Carey's ability to transport the reader to a complex and often times disturbing world.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
jonathan ems
Despite some strong passages and reasonably well developed characters, this book is merely okay. Unlike The Girl with All the Gifts, the writing feels a bit rushed over and the perspective shifts are sometimes confusing. The story is not well anchored in Jess Moulson (the protagonist), perhaps because there is an incoherence to her character. As she was written, I found it a little hard to believe that she could have been a heroin addict for years. She lacks the improvisation/survival skills you would expect a person who had fallen on hard times might possess.

The stakes feel low as Jess is a character who has largely given up on her own life. She doesn't really want things. It is also a problem that much of the "action" in this books, such as it is, occurs inside the minds and dreams of Jess and other characters. The overall impression is not so very different from listening to a smart person narrate a strange dream they had. No one's dreams are all that compelling.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
I was not sure at first if I was going to be able to finish this book because it was so sad. And right now, I can't handle sad but I pushed on and it was a good book. It's still very sad.

When Jess wakes up, she's in a prison room.

She's not sure what has happened. She was in pain. But finally someone tells her she is in prison for killing a little boy in the building she lived in. Jess was friends with this little boy, she treated him the best she could because she knew his home life was bad. How could she be so high that she would burn the building and the boy inside?

When Jess is able to move, they transfer her to Fellside prison. She is kept in an isolated ward because she is dying. She wants to die because she can't stand the thought that she killed her little friend. She is in such despair. I found this to be so sad and the way she was treated. I mean sometimes they get it wrong. Sometimes they don't look at all of the evidence the right way. Sometimes innocent people take the fall. But...... Jess is seeing Alex in her dreams. He tells her things.

Jess remembers getting high with her boyfriend at the time. She finally got clean but he pulled her back in.. into a world that she should not have been in....


Memory and longing betrayed her. She let him put the tube up against her lips. She breathed in. A shallow breath at first. But the second one was deeper. And from there, by slow and inexorable degrees:
the needle
the first time he hit her and said he was sorry
the first time he hit her and explained why it was her fault
losing her friends
losing her job
burning down the house
murdering Alex Beech.


Alex brings Jess back from the brink of death. She was floating, going away and her brought her back. He had unfinished business for her.

After Jess started to get well, they put her in with the regular convicts even though some thought she shouldn't be placed there. But others thought, she's a child killer, let her get what she deserves. And she did, beatings - things you imagine in jail.

Through all of this bleak, hopelessness.. there is a tiny spark. There is something happening at the prison. There is something that brings the case back open for Jess. All you have to do is look in the right place. And sometimes, just sometimes, you might get help from the spirits that were done wrong.

I did like the book once it got to where it was going. I loved Jess, she wasn't a bad person. She got in with the wrong crowd but don't we all at some point?

I think the book was written very well but don't sit down and read this if your depressed!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
hosein vahdani
Review courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy:

Some people may call FELLSIDE heart-breaking, but that is too gentle. The book rips out your heart, stabs it with a shank made from an old toothbrush, and finishes it off with a few good whacks with a fire-extinguisher for good measure. This book is incredibly violent, but also incredibly touching, with characters that will stick with you long after the last page.

Jess is not an easy character to like. She tried to murder her boyfriend and ended up killing the 10 year old boy who lived upstairs instead. Her face, half of which burned off, has been restored, but not very well, almost as if the plastic surgeons couldn't be bothered to do a good job on a child killer. She has a very shaky memory of what happened that night, but is certain that not only does she belong at Fellside, the maximum security prison she is sent to for the rest of life, but that she deserves to die for what she did.

My favourite character was Sal, a male doctor who runs the infirmary in the prison, where Jess spends a huge amount of time. He was the most human of all the characters to me; many of the characters were bigger than life, nasty, brutish and evil. While Sal wasn't perfect, he was able to see what he was doing wrong, as opposed to some other characters for whom the world was all black and white, and all theirs for the taking. He managed to bring a more realistic touch of fear and helplessness that the other characters couldn't. Yes, Jess was helpless at times, but she is a prisoner; not being able to do what you want is part of the deal. Sal, who could have physically walked away from what was happening in the prison, was trapped there by his guilt and the mounting threats against him. He was a fascinating character to read about.

There are so many moments in this novel that will leave you cringing, from the beatings, to the hunger strike, to the terrible treatment Jess receives from nearly everyone in her life. Still, there are beautiful moments as well; her growing, renewed friendship with the boy she murdered, the memories from her childhood, the fascinating social dynamics within the prison.

Like THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS, this is a difficult book to review without spoiling it, and it's well worth discovering for yourself too. It's not for the feint of heart; it deals seriously with drugs, drug dealing, violence, infidelity, death, murder... And among all that horror, the wonderful story of Jess and a little boy who refuses to rest, who needs her almost as much as she needs him.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
ana elvira
You Are Your Own Worst Enemy!- 4.5 stars...

Have you ever heard that saying? Well that saying fits Jessica, the main character and prisoner in Fellside, to a tee. It was extremely hard to like her because she continuously did one thing after another to sabotage her own self and life. To say she frustrated me is the understatement of the century! Never in my life have I wanted to help someone and smack someone at the same time as much as I did with her. So be prepared, she will tug at a variety of your heartstrings in more ways then one.

The story itself I thought was really good. There was a little drag time in the middle but it picked right back up and went full force until the end. All of Carey's characters are so well-developed that you just get immersed in the world he creates. I learned more about the women's prison community and social structure then I ever expected or cared to know. I'm just glad it was from the outside looking in because if I had no desire to learn first hand before, I really don't now. That is one place I will stick with traveling to strictly from my armchair and just so I don't tempt fate too much I won't be going from there much either. I can't say first hand but it seems like Carey really nailed the social community within the prison.

There is also a paranormal and dream-walking aspect to the story and I thought both were implemented very nicely. The author didn't go too far off the rails with it, which I liked and she did a really good job of putting pen to paper with the alternate dream world and how it works so that it made sense and sounded feasible.

M.R. Carey is on a roll with two very different but well-delivered successes in a row. I wonder where he'll take us next??

*I received this ARC from NetGalley and Orbit Books in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
paula ganzer
Fellside includes the same experiments of form that made 'The Girl With All The Gifts' such a fun read. The way the novel suddenly switches perspective to narrate from inside the head of side characters is something your writing teacher will tell you to never do, but Carey does it ably (the only other example that comes to mind is Marquez).

Fellside is a great read. I really enjoyed it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
clara g
This is another amazing story from MR Carey. I listened to the unabridged audio version and found it totally gripping. Carey writes some dark landscapes, human and spatial, but he always throws in characters with bravery and "gifts" that lend buoyancy to the story. Recommended.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
lynn stewart
Carey's writing is some of my favorite, and I think he weaves a wonderful story here. I've read things like "Orange is the New Black meets The Shining" in reviews, but the only thing I know about the first is that it takes place in a women's penitentiary. The setting is the same for this one, that's true. I don't know that I entirely agree with the second reference, though.

The middle of the book had me riveted, and the pace continued to stay pretty steady after that. I pretty much guessed how the end was going to go, so there wasn't much surprise there, but I quite enjoyed the trip overall. I don't want to reveal too much because I think it's better to go in this one blind, but if you were a fan of "The Girl With All the Gifts" (which I loved), definitely give this one a try.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
beth moore
M.R. Carey is fast becoming one of my favorite authors out there. Not only did I find this riveting, but it's one of the first books in a while that moved me to tears by the end. It's a literary thriller with tremendous emotional depth. Highly recommended.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
drew mendelson
First time I have read anything by this author but I loved it. Not a book for those who are squeamish though. Fortunately I am not squeamish. Some nice twists and turns and a genuinely creepy book.

Ray Smillie
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
kevin hebert
This book reminded me of Orange Is the New Black. So, I wasn't really to into it. I've already seen a few seasons of OITNB so, I didn't need to reread it. The first half of the book is incredibly slow. I wasn't too into reading it. It finally picked up later but by that time, I wasn't too in to it. I finished the book though and it ended well enough. This book wasn't as good as the author's first book.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
kelly sedinger
poor resolution, too many first person changes, and just not very engrossing.

the author seems to have gone out of his way to use technical terms to make sure that we understand that he knows all the jargon, yet it just feels like he is trying to be superior.

not worth your time.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Such an amazing story that's full of surprises. Characters you've seen and other's you haven't. They're what keeps the story dynamic and interesting and eventually led me to miss them when I'd finished the book...
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
This is a story about a junkie who sets her apartment on fire and is charged with murder because a child was killed in the fire. She is sent to prison and the rest of the book is in that setting. Some of the surprises were pretty evident but it was a good read and I enjoyed the writing style.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
s wright
This book was engaging and kept me on my toes. I was gripped by the story, even if the story was slightly predictable. I guessed the twist with the ghost. I also felt the last couple of chapters just dragged on a bit. All in all, it was a good book.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
zachary shinabargar
Didn't finish it... I'm baffled. I really liked the Felix Castor series. One of my first (and often repeated) thoughts while reading those books was that the author was quite clever. Pen name aside, Fellside reads like a completely different author. See attached photo, where the word "that" is used twelve times in a 3/4-length page. I want to read this book - I know what Carey is capable of - but, despite the assurance of the cover testimonial, I can't stop putting this book down. :(

*CORRECTION: There are thirteen "that"s on this page. I missed one on the sixth line down: "The judge ruled THAT..."
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
brian topping
Jess Moulton wakes up in a hospital bed with few memories of the previous eight months. A heroin addict, she and her boyfriend John Street shot up in her flat; when a fire broke out later that night (started, according to the police, by Jess herself), John was able to escape with third degree burns on his hands and arms, but Jess wasn’t so lucky. Passed out cold, the fire melted half her face before first responders pulled her from the inferno. Alex Beech, the little boy who lived in the upstairs apartment, wasn’t so lucky; left home alone that night by his parents, Alex died of smoke inhalation.

After multiple skin grafts and extensive cosmetic surgery to repair her face, Jess is swiftly tried and convicted of murder. The Crown insists that Jess set the fire on purpose, to kill John and herself; the fact that someone else died instead does not manslaughter make. Left with no memories of the event – and a pretty low opinion of herself, college dropout and relapsed “junkie” – Jess does little to assist in her own defense. After the verdict comes down, she’s sent to Fellside, a women’s prison near the Yorkshire Moors. Convinced that she is indeed a “murderess,” Jess tries to kill herself by the only means at her disposal – a hunger strike.

Just as she’s on the precipice, Jess is visited by the ghost of Alex Beech – who enlists her help in finding the real killer. Fellside is fraught with danger: a drug smuggling ring led by Harriet Grace of “State of Grace” fame; corrupt wardens; incompetent management; damaged women with little left to lose – yet the greatest risk lies in that other world, the spirit world inhabited by dreamers and ghosts. A world that Jess has been able to traverse since she was a child.

Spooky, right?

So here’s the deal: I read and loved THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS. It was easily one of my favorites of 2015. And I nearly fell out of my seat when I first spotted the early copies of FELLSIDE, so busy was I making grabby hands at my computer screen. (The happy dance didn’t help either.) Early reviewers cautioned that FELLSIDE was drastically different from THAT OTHER BOOK, which didn’t alarm me at all: why shouldn’t it be? Science fiction might be my first love, but supernatural horror is well within my wheelhouse. That, and I find that genre tends to fall away when the writing’s shiny enough. My expectations were sky-high.

While the idea behind the story is solid, the execution leaves a lot to be desired. At nearly 500 pages, the story feels bloated and occasionally repetitive, with several weird subplots that seem to go nowhere. For example, Paul Levine’s skeevy crush on Jess – which he freely admits is based on his own s***, that he’s projecting onto her. But somehow his attraction to her rebuilt face makes a cosmic sort of sense because he used to be a cutter? Say what now?

Carey’s writing isn’t quite up to par with that in THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS, or at least not as I remember it. More than once I caught myself in an exaggerated eye roll thanks to a cheesy line, and one especially stupid move by the MC nearly had me throwing my Kindle across the room towards the end of the story. None of the characters are especially likable, or even relatable; and while the former need not be a book’s death knell (see, e.g., GONE GIRL, where everyone is THE WORST), you’ve got to make them at least interesting or all bets are off. But Jess has all the personality of a lightly salted boiled potato. It’s never a good sign when you find yourself shrugging over a character’s death (plural, in this case).

That said, the story is fairly entertaining and (mostly) moves along at a steady clip. It wasn’t until the midway point that I found my attention wandering, and I only considered DNF’ing the book around 80%, when Someone Did Something Unforgivably Stupid. Jess’s slow death by starvation was, for me, a high point in the story. Carey does a perfectly horrifying job of detailing what this might look like – and it’s much more complicated and gruesome than merely wasting away. (Think: a fungal infection rotting through your mouth. Ew!)

** Full disclosure: I received a free electronic ARC for review through NetGalley. **
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