Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Book Review: THE WANING (Christina Bergling) by Dave Wolff

Christina Bergling
Bad Day Books/Assent Publishing, 2015
Christina Bergling’s second full length novel explores the human survival instinct from quite a different perspective from her previous work Savages. If you remember the review of that novel here, it centered on a group of human beings coping with a kind of zombie apocalypse, the slow and gradual changes each character experienced. The Waning is a tale of a well to do businesswoman, driven and ruthless in her climb up the corporate ladder, about to come out of the closet about her sexuality and relationship status, seeing her life suddenly and unexpectedly turned on its head. She is abducted and imprisoned for reasons unknown, viciously beaten by her captor who seeks to eat away at her will to survive through extreme violence, brainwashing and isolation. As her ordeal erodes her mentally, she forgets her previous life and identity as her core instinct for self-preservation builds, transforming her into someone else. The novel is written in the first person and is rife with deep, detailed descriptions of her experiences at the hands of her unwelcome host: “"You were breaking me down. More brilliantly than I could realize, lost in my strife. You were leaving me alone to turn on myself, break myself down to something more pliable for You. I wish I could have appreciated the beauty of it in my misery.” This formula drives the story’s psychological edge home in a way that makes the protagonist’s breakdown as shown in movies like Fatal Attraction and Silence Of The Lambs appear tame by comparison. You feel everything from the outset, from the all encompassing near silence opening the story to the methods the antagonist uses to gain complete and total dominion over his prisoner. The horror goes a step further since the protagonist seems to accept what she eventually becomes while the question remains as to whether she will survive in the end. The Waning marks the dawn of a new era of psychological horror, as there is nothing polished or sanitized about and traditional themes of courage and heroism are thrown out the window to make room for… well, you’ll just have to read this novel to discover what I am inferring. The Waning, like Savages, is available through Amazon and Bergling has a third novel in the works. -Dave Wolff

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