Out Of Mind, by Sam Hayes

Reviewed by Steve Dean

This novel isn't genre fiction in any way, although there is some exploration of the boundaries between reality and imagination, nor is it the type of thing I'd usually read. It's a story of mental illness, physical abuse and character domination. You can see what I mean, not your, or my, everyday material.

Cover of Out of MindBut to miss this book would be a pity. Despite its gloomy subject matter it is a hell of a read. A young girl, Mackenzie, is virtually sold to a young man by her uncaring, alcoholic father. Thus begins a life of beatings and total control over her every moment by the thuggish, arrogant Richard. Woven through her life is that of her only friend, a mental escapee by the name of Katrina. The story covers the four decades following Mackenzie and Katrina’s first meeting as school children, through Mackenzie’s marriage and the arrival of her children. The back-story is cleverly intertwined throughout, revealing the characters and the reasons for their actions. It’s interesting to note I put ‘revealing’ not developing the characters, because that is what it reads like.

And it’s the characters that really make the book. They are all four dimensional, totally believable. Katrina’s part is told in first person, and reads like someone’s diary, so accurate is the emotion and realism evoked. You’ll find yourself hating Richard, her father, even at times Mackenzie. You’ll shout at her, tell her to get her act together and leave the bastard.

We all know most women are emotionally stronger than the majority of men, as Titanium is stronger than say, wet cardboard. And, ultimately, that’s what the book is about, mental strength and tenacity.

Overall then one of the finest pieces of work I’ve read in a long time, all praise to the author, and to the publisher for allowing us to read something not popular with the chief accountants, sorry, chief editors of the major book publishers.

Be warned this is a one session read, so give yourself plenty of time some tissues and have a punch bag nearby.

Published by: Blue Chrome Publishing (£7.99).

About Stephen Theaker (306 Articles)
Stephen Theaker's reviews, interviews and articles have appeared in Interzone, Black Static, Prism and the BFS Journal. Among other work for the BFS, he has been awards administrator, short story competition administrator, Dark Horizons editor, FantasyCon secretary and treasurer, and (briefly) chair.