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?
First line: “It’s a strange thing to wake up not knowing who you are.”
After reading The Hungries series by M. R. Carey, I pushed Fellside to the top of my TBR list because I absolutely loved that duology and has high hopes for this novel too. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite live up to expectations, and I’ve seen plenty of others say they felt the same thing about this.
From the synopsis, I thought this book was going to be a creepy paranormal tale of a prison haunted by spirits but it’s not that at all. Without giving too much away, this is a story about one woman’s grief and finding peace within herself through the means of a spirit she sees.
This whole book is set within a prison, so there is a mix of classic prison characters in this book, like the distant but friendly cell mate, the top-dog prison inmate who runs everything from the inside, the corrupt prison officer and the psychiatrist. There was really nothing new when it came to the characters in this book. They were all deeply flawed and had incredible background building but that’s as far as my admiration for them goes. I feel disconnected to all of them on some level.
The plot of this book follows our main character Jess, who has been accused of murder. She is haunted by the vision of the little boy she accidentally killed by setting fire to her apartment and is desperately sure she is not guilty of what she has been accused. I found the story in this one a little bland, despite the high page count. There was plenty going on but none of it was really that interesting to me. If it hadn’t been for the fact that I read this as part of 25 in 5, I definitely wouldn’t have finished this book in the space of a day.
I did like some of the imagery in this novel. When Jess steps into the sleep world, the place where this spirit lives, I loved the way M. R. Carey described it! You know that scene in (original) Charlie and the Chocolate Factory where they go into the TV and there’s all those tiny little particles up in the air? It was just like that only slightly creepier. Plus, I say this book didn’t creep me out but there was one moment at the start of the book where Jess is bed-bound and she feels a presence behind the head of her bed that definitely did give me goosebumps, but that’s as far as it went for me.
I did also enjoy the way that this book comes together at the end. There are a lot of stories that run alongside each other in this novel and it was interesting to see how they all concluded. That’s one thing Carey did very well at in this story, and that was tying up all the loose ends. This turned out to be a very emotional book in the end, which I wasn’t expecting at all!
Overall this book was just a ‘meh’ book for me. I just don’t think I click with fiction set in prisons as I’ve neither really enjoyed ‘Orange is the New Black’ or another book I read based in a prison recently ‘The Captives’. If you’re looking for a slow, gently disturbing read that’s full to the brim with characters and emotion, this may very well work for you!