Locked in his dark cell, Greg lay awake in bed, fidgeting with the small cassette recorder, pressing the rewind and stop buttons to listen to the heavy click and spring-loaded clank that initiated and punctuated the faint whirring mechanics. He knew well enough no one was going to come looking for him––not while he was in between jobs, living in a four-door pickup truck, and had traveled to an undisclosed location without telling anyone.
What brought him here were rumors of an abandoned building there that was said to be part of a black site––rumors that were circulated amongst truckers and drifters: some exaggerated the sinister aspect of the place, detailing with morbid relish the methods of enhanced interrogation that were being developed or deployed there, while others assumed the contrarian position and downplayed the horrors, if not downright dismissed the whole story as hyperbole.
Questionable as the lead was, the story seemed too good for an amateur journalist like Greg to pass up. All the same, he did not expect there would be some truth to those rumors, that the building is not quite derelict as he had imagined. And that, thanks to a case of mistaken identity, he was now incarcerated there as an inmate.
Greg stopped the rewinding mechanism when he detected rustling and soft thumps coming through the ceiling vent––or thought he did, since the quirky nature of unidentified noise is that they usually cease whenever one stops to listen to them. Like a living body, no running building is without its small, unaccountable bumps and muffled clanks; yet even if they’re mostly benign noise, at night, they’re magnified by the ever-present hush, and their unfamiliarity never fails to inflame the imagination of the sleepless newcomer.
LESATH is a psychological horror novel that pays tribute to gothic fiction.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Sometimes I'll start a book and I'm not sure where it's going and whether it's for me, but I keep going anyway hoping for a pay-off in the end. The summary had me thinking this would be a cliche asylum horror, but it turned out to be more than that. It has elements of horror but also weird. It has a dreamy quality that veers into nightmare at a drop of a hat. What does a psychotic breakdown feel like? What does it look like? Sometimes it's more subtle than you think. From the first line, though we don’t know it yet, Greg shows signs that something isn’t right with him. The opening becomes more significant as you read on. There’s also Greg’s inability to hold down a job and his decision to investigate rumors of a building that by all means he’d be better off staying away from. Nothing is spelled outright in this story. Instead the reader is given pieces of a puzzle for to piece together. Which could be to the detriment of the book in a culture where books are consumed as "I read it. I felt this way about it. ___ stars. Thank you, Next!" I wish I can delve more into what I thought, but it's hard to do that without getting into spoilers. Suffice it to say I appreciate the craft that went into this book and I thoroughly enjoyed this. Would definitely read again.
This one may require some future re-reads. Lesath plays out like a waking nightmare: you're immediately dropped into the brain of the narrator, a seemingly random, out of work journalist investigating an abandoned complex in the middle of nowhere. He's promptly knocked out and becomes a defacto prisoner of the actually-not-so-abandoned complex. Explanations are in short supply throughout this taut novel: characters appear and disappear with dizzying rapidity, POV changes come in intense bursts, motivations twist and turn nearly as much as the endless corridors in the complex, and the dialogue carries an often dreamlike and surreal quality. Also, there may be something in the vents. All of these things combine to make this a gothic head scratcher. You're never quite sure where the plot is at or where it's going, who is trying to do what, or what the endgame is. And yes, I'm arguing that this is (predominantly) a good thing. True horror sticks to the shadows as much as possible. My main gripe would be that none of the characters really stood out for me. The scenes shift focus so quickly that not even the narrator or the villain seemed to me to have a face, and I often found myself confusing multiple characters. There's potential here if Kherbash continues on in this world, something that is hinted at by the open-ended climax. As a standalone title for the time being, it's a good one if you've got a couple free nights in your schedule. ***I was given a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to NetGalley and the author.**
I love psychological thrillers. However, Lesath didn’t live up to expectations. Several times, I wanted to stop reading, but I forged to the end to see if any of the mysteries would be revealed. The ending was the most interesting part, but by then it seemed too little too late. I understand that the plot was meant to be ambiguous and confusing, but if that’s the intent, there needs to be enough breadcrumbs sprinkled into the story to keep the reader engaged. There wasn’t, and I often felt frustrated with the story and how the characters were presented. Greg is our protagonist, but I felt very little for him. This book is largely “telling” not “showing”, so most of the action stayed surface level, rather than delving into what Greg was experiencing internally. For example, the book starts with him waking up in a strange foreign facility where he learns he looks exactly like an escaped inmate. Except, he isn’t allowed to leave until the inmate is captured and returned. That’s a pretty awesome set up and I was excited to see what happened next. But Greg’s reaction is very one dimensional, as it is throughout most of the story. There’s no deep emotion or panic. If I were Greg, I’d keep my head down. I’d be terrified, panicked, a big sweaty ball of anxiety. Greg is none of those things. And when an inmate starts harassing him, Greg reacts by starting a fight. Why? As a reader, we have no background information on Greg’s emotional wellbeing. We don’t know if he’s prone to anger or outbursts, so why in the world would he risk fighting an inmate? Wouldn’t that be the exact opposite of what someone in his position would do? And then he ends up in the infirmary where someone slips him a note suggesting there’s a trap door under the bed. That’s an intriguing plot twist, but once again, I questioned the realism of his character as it’s presented. Wouldn’t a man in this situation be terrified to slip into a trap door that goes to a different level of the facility? But we don’t get any real clues as to Greg’s emotional status or mentality. He just goes for it. Yes, at the end, some of the mysteries over Greg’s actions are slightly revealed, but while I was reading these opening scenes, I was confused, frustrated and ready to quit on the book. I wanted more from such a promising premise. More emotion. More connection with the characters. More clarity. The end picks up the pace a bit and there’s much more flavor on the page, but by then I just wanted it to end. I admire that an idea like this was tackled, and I still think it’s a fantastic premise, but I believe it would have benefited from a few more rounds of edits. With all that said, this book has been getting mixed reviews. Some love everything that I find frustrating. Give it a read and decide for yourself!