Monday 6 July 2015

REVIEW: Christina Bergling - The Waning

Genre: Horror
Publisher: Bad Day Books / Assent Publishing
Publication Date: 6th July 2015
Pages: 136


A copy of The Waning was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer by the author Christina Bergling in exchange for an honest review. This is said review. This book is published by Bad Day Books / Assent Publishing.

I was super impressed with Christina Bergling’s first book, Savages. When she asked me if I would be interested in a copy of her new book The Waning for Confessions of a Reviewer I could not refuse. Repeat reviews for an author are a perk of running this type of blog. When you get writing as good as this, it turns out to be one of the best perks in the world.

Beatrix is a workaholic. At least until she gets her big break and earns her right to be a partner in the company. It looks like it could be on the cards if she lands this latest account. Her partner Lei is dreaming of the day it all falls in to place so they can finally stop hiding their romance and  announce to the world they are a couple. Beatrix seems to think that “coming out” would be a mistake before she gets her big break.

When the results of the negotiations come in, Beatrix could not be happier. All her dreams are coming true. She just cannot wait to get home and tell Lei.

As she is reaching her car in the car park, someone grabs her from behind. The next thing she knows, she is inside a metal cage in a dark, damp concrete cell.

This is the beginning of a horrific journey of self-discovery, self-preservation and the quest for simple answers such as who has taken her hostage and why?

So – stories where the main character has been kidnapped and is being kept against their will in a cell with seemingly no way of escaping the torture and hell that they find themselves in. You have probably all read one right? There are quite a few books I have read with a similar plot. I guarantee you have never read one like this. Christina Bergling has written his story in such a unique way that for me, after just finishing the story, I feel dirty, I feel evil and I feel ashamed.

When I read Christina’s first book, Savages, one of the things I mentioned in my review that enthralled me so much with it was the fact the characters had no names until about 70% into the story. This just made it totally different for me. Unique. Normally by that stage of a story we know the names, family history, medical history, number of pets and how many times a day they take a shit. It was just so different to be reading a story that had two people battling for survival when you knew so little about them. She has added the unique twist again in The Waning.

The story is told in the first person. It is told through the eyes of Beatrix. She has no idea who her kidnapper is. She has no idea of their name or anything about them so therefore no idea at all why she is there in the first place and what the outcome of the whole thing might be. Because she has no idea of the kidnappers name she needs to call them something to tell the story doesn’t she?

She calls them “You”. For example:

“You opened the door and entered the cell”

“You unlocked my cage and led me out”

“You lifted the scalpel”

Now the above are not actual quotes from the story. I’m not going to give anything away from it but do you get my drift? By using the word “You” over and over throughout the story, you, as in the reader, slowly start to believe that you are in fact the kidnapper. It is very unnerving. It totally immerses you in the story to the point you actually believe you have this girl locked away in a cell somewhere in your house for whatever purposes Ms Bergling might have mind. This is another very unsettling fact when you read the story. You believe the “you” is yourself but you have absolutely no control over what is happening because you can only do what is written for you to do. You are not in control of anything you are doing. It’s scary. You don’t want to do the things that are happening in the story because you may not be that type of person but you can’t help it because you are not the one writing it.

This aspect of the story is absolutely, stunningly, fantastic. I have never read a book before so powerful that you feel totally out of control.

In terms of characters, there are really only two. Beatrix and you. You will get what I mean about “you” when you read it. Beatrix on the other hand goes through the most intense mental and physical torture I have ever seen anyone go through. I think this is also made worse by the fact that it is “you” doing it to her. She has to adopt from being a very strong, directed individual who knows exactly what she wants and exactly how she is going to get it (and doesn’t mind who she steps on to reach her goal) to a subservient, meek woman giving in totally to a new master and his every whim. She has no idea of why she is there and what the outcome will be and can only go with the flow and follow the direction her mind wants her to go at any particular time. This is headfeck of the ultimate kind.

In many respects there isn’t much to this story. No big elaborate scenes and no huge amount of characters. Also I felt it could have done with a little bit more on the scary side but that is a personal choice.

The power and emotion and the skill in the writing more than make up for that with me though. This book is superb. This is a book that I will remember probably forever as being the one book that was truly interactive for me. It grabbed me and sucked me into the story in such a way that not only did I believe it but I felt like I was responsible for it. That is some mighty fine, powerful writing to be able to do that to a reader.

To summarise: An old plot that has been done many times before. I have never, however, read something done in this style that makes you feel as if it’s all your fault. This book will bring emotions to the surface in you that you never knew you had. This is must read exercise in psychological headfeck that will be very very hard to beat in my humble opinion.

General rating:

★★★★★ Perfect.

Horror rating:

★★★ Could have been some more scares in it for me.

You can buy The Waning here:

Book Synopsis:

Beatrix wakes in a small metal cage with only a persistent dripping sound to keep her company. Lost in the darkness, she reels to remember how she ended up locked within these bars. She had been leaving work to celebrate her promotion, a promotion that was the culmination of her entire ruthless, driven career, a promotion that would cement her status with her marketing firm enough for her to take her relationship with her girlfriend out of the closet.

Beatrix had finally made it. And then she was here, disoriented and petrified in a black she could not define.

Yet the reality of her Master may be even more terrifying than the crushing darkness and enveloping isolation. He appears as an ominous shadow in the doorway of her cell, and he never speaks to her. Instead, he teaches her the language of pain and torture, of submission and obedience, of possession.

With each passing day, the fight and hope in Beatrix begins to shrivel and wane. With each savage beating, her survivalist instincts rise up to overwhelm the person she was. With each dehumanizing condition, she begins to forget who she was and the life from which she was ripped.

Can Beatrix ward off the psychological breakdown of her Master? Can she resist the temptation to survive and thrive through submission? Either Beatrix will succeed at surviving and escaping the torments of her Master or her Master will succeed at breaking her completely and reforming her into his design for a human possession.

Colorado-bred writer, Christina Bergling, sold her soul early into the writing game. By fourth grade, she knew she wanted to be an author, and in college, she actively pursued it and started publishing small scale. However, with the realities of eating and paying bills, she hocked her passion to profession and worked as a technical writer and document manager, even traveling to Iraq as a contractor.

Assent Publishing brought her back to her art publishing her debut novella, Savages, to be followed by a second, The Waning. Bergling is a mother of two young children and lives with her family in Colorado Springs.

You can see more of Christina at her website.

Christina’s author page is here.

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